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Reform of former orphanages underway

Friday, May 4
On April 27, international NGO EveryChild and its partner organizations presented the findings of the Needs Assessment of Alternative Child Care Services – an evaluation of foster care, small group homes (SGHs) and daycare centres (DCCs).

Under the guidance of ongoing deinstitutionalization reforms, these three services are provided to children lacking parental care by the government, through a number of local and international NGOs.

The Needs Assessment was carried out within the framework of the Advocacy for Participation to Protect Children’s Rights project funded by the European Union and implemented by EveryChild. It is the first assessment to evaluate all three types of alternative child care services.

The project’s implementing partner – Children of Georgia – conducted nationwide interviews and focus groups with 344 individuals: foster parents and foster care beneficiaries; SGH managers, caregivers and beneficiaries; and DCC managers, teachers, beneficiaries and their biological parents.

The Needs Assessment showed that the service providers and users are in general satisfied with provided services and strongly support their existence in the country. However, they noted a range of needs which have to be met to ensure that the diversity and quality of services provided to children is maintained and further improved.

Based on the findings of the Needs Assessment, 11 project partner organizations jointly developed recommendations focused on systemic/structural, administrative, healthcare, education, finance and capacity building thematic areas.

Out of 70 recommendations, one has already been fully implemented, while 20 are currently in the process of being implemented with a varying degree of progress. Yet, there are still 49 recommendations that require attention.

Between now and August, the project partners plan to conduct individual and group meetings with policy-makers, donors, central and local governments and to collaborate with mass media in order to raise the awareness about identified needs and advocate for implementation of developed recommendations.

Active involvement of foster care, SGH and DCC service providers and users (both children and their biological parents) in effective planning of the State action plans for alternative child care will ensure that the intended budget more accurately reflects the actual needs of children using these services. Institutionalising their participation will ensure transparency of the planning process and serve as an effective mechanism for receiving regular feedback through two-way communication so that the children’s rights are duly met.

The project partners are Children of Georgia, Georgian Foster Care Organization, Caritas Georgia, Foundation Breath – Georgia, SOS Children’s Villages Georgia, Child and Environment, Society Biliki, First Step Georgia, Public Health and Medicine Development Fund (PHMDF) and the Young Pedagogues’ Union.

Deinstitutionalization reform has been implemented in Georgia since 1999 with the purpose of closing down large-scale Soviet-type children’s institutions (so-called “orphanages”). At the start of the reform 5500 children were living in institutions and boarding schools. These children have been either reintegrated into their biological families, placed in foster care, or in SGHs. Today only 387 of them still remain in 9 state-run institutions for both healthy and disabled children. The reform is to be completed by the end of 2012.