February 4, 2021
During a visit to Zhytomyr region, Ambassador Galadza had the opportunity to learn first-hand about how children are benefitting from family environments instead of living in residential care facilities. Evidence and international best practice show that children grow, learn and develop better when they live in a family setting. It’s in the child’s best interest.
In Ukraine️, 92% of children placed in residential care facilities have a living parent. Ukraine has a strong plan to move away from institutionalization of children, and to provide the support that families and schools need. Canada is concerned about recent indications that the reform plan may be changed and slowed, impacting thousands of kids and depriving them of the best chances for success in life.
It is critical for Ukraine to continue implementing its deinstitutionalization reform, shifting support from the residential institutions to families, schools and communities. Any proposed changes should be thoroughly assessed through meaningful consultations. Only then can Ukraine meet its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and ensure that every child can grow up in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. It’s a long process to change policy, incentives, budgets, and yes, mentalities. But it is worth it!
Під час свого візиту на Житомирщину, посол Лариса Ґаладза мала змогу з перших вуст дізнатись про переваги проживання дітей в колі сім’ї, на противагу інтернатам. Докази та найкраща міжнародна практика свідчать, що діти зростають, навчаються та розвиваються краще, коли вони проживають в родинних умовах. Це в інтересах дитини.
В Україні️ 92% дітей, які перебувають в інтернатних закладах, мають хоча б одного з батьків. Україна розробила ретельний план переходу від інституціоналізації дітей до надання необхідної підтримки сім’ям та школам.
Канада стурбована нещодавніми спробами змінити цей курс та сповільнити реформу, ризикуючи позбавити тисячі дітей шансу на краще життя. Для України надзвичайно важливо продовжувати впроваджувати реформу деінституціоналізації, перенаправляючи державну підтримку від інтернату до сім’ї, школи та громади. Будь-які запропоновані зміни до цієї реформи варто ретельно оцінити шляхом проведення ґрунтовних консультацій. Тільки тоді Україна зможе виконати свої зобов’язання згідно з Конвенцією ООН про права дитини та забезпечити кожній дитині безпечні та здорові умови для зростання та виховання. Внесення змін у державну політику, створення додаткових стимулів, фінансування та зміна менталітету – це довготривалий процес. Але він того вартий!
Source: Embassy of Canada in Ukraine Twitter
The COVID-19 Children’s Relief Initiative was launched in the spring of 2020 as an online appeal to provide support to children in Ukraine in need of basic supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost 100,000 children in Ukraine were living in government-run residential institutions or rehabilitation centres prior to the quarantine announced on March 11, 2020. In an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus approximately 50,000 children were sent home to their biological families, many of whom are unable to provide or care for them.
“These families are in dire need right now because tens of thousands of children were sent back from government-run institutions to family residences for isolation purposes,” said Mykola Kuleba, the Ombudsman for Children with the President of Ukraine.
“Currently thousands of families are unable to provide basic food and hygiene supplies to their children,” said Mr. Kuleba. “With your support, these vulnerable children can remain where they belong, at home, with their families. Information gathered during this time will guide the creation of a long-term strategy”.
Donations were accepted to support the purchase of food packages and hygiene kits for these children and their families in Ukraine. These materials were distributed by social workers as they visit the families to assess the health and well-being of the children.
This initiative is being led by Help Us Help and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. It is supported by Meest Corporation and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, in partnership with the Ombudsman for Children with the President of Ukraine.
The project website can be found at www.covid19childrensrelief.ca.
All food packages and hygiene kits are curated by Meest in partnership with Ukrainian retailers and distributed throughout Ukraine by Meest Express directly to social workers. Packages and kits can also be purchased directly through Meest’s eCommerce website giftsforukraine.com. Giftsforukraine.com is a new online service, powered by Meest, that allows users to purchase goods and gifts online for their relatives and friends back home in Ukraine. Meest Corporation Inc. was founded in Toronto in 1989 with the main goal of uniting the Ukrainian diaspora abroad, in Canada, with the homeland, in Ukraine. True to its goal of strengthening ties between Ukraine and the Diaspora in Canada, Meest has long been a sponsor of humanitarian aid shipments from Canada to Ukraine and has a long-standing partnership with Help Us Help and Canada-Ukraine Foundation in delivering aid all across Ukraine.
Ukraine has among the highest numbers of institutionalized children in Europe. The majority of these children have families that are unable to provide or care for them.
Just under 100,000 children were living in residential institutions or rehabilitation centres prior to the quarantine announced on March 11, 2020. In an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus approximately 50,000 children were sent home to their biological families. There is great concern that, due to a lack of support from social services in place, these children and families will endure additional hardships during the pandemic.
Mr. Kuleba has long been an advocate for Ukraine to take steps in transitioning from a society that puts parentless or neglected children in institutions, to one with an extensive Social-Care network that allows children to safely remain in their homes or to enter into foster care.
The pandemic has brought about an opportunity for Ukraine to begin this transition by better understanding the needs of the families of children that have been sent home.
About Deinstitutionalization (DI) Reforms
In 2017, the Ukrainian government adopted the National Deinstitutionalization (DI) Reform Strategy and Action Plan, which involves supporting families and creating favourable conditions for the upbringing of children. While a pilot DI reform project was launched in the Zhytomyr region that same year, the full dismantling of the orphanage system is planned for 2026.
On January 26, UCC President Alexandra Chyczij wrote to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal urging them to ensure the continuation of reforms under the National Strategy on Reform of the Institutional Care System, in which the Government of Ukraine committed to transforming the national childcare system.
Chyczij stated, “Continuing the reform of the system of institutional care is a key element in ensuring Ukraine’s adherence to European democratic and social principles and the continued integration of Ukraine with the European community.” The letter is available here