Reform of the child care system takes place - A family for every child
TBILISI, Georgia, 11 May 2011 - The progress in reforming the child care system in Georgia was reviewed at a press-conference organized at the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs. Mr. Andrew Urushadze, Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs and Mr Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia in their speeches reviewed major achievements of the reform and outlined future plans. Mr Paata Burchuladze, UNICEF Ambassador in Georgia who also participated in the event expressed his tremendous support to the child care system reform the main goal of which is to ensure that every child in Georgia grows up in a family environment.
The number of children living in institutions has reduced from 5000 to 1220 over the last five years. The number of institutions have reduced from 46 to 21 during the same period. This decrease has been due to a number of factors including development and improvement of relevant legislation to reduce administrative barriers for a child's reintegration into its biological family, adoption and foster care; strengthening the role of social workers; and establishment of regional bodies of guardianship.
Within the current stage of the reform 17 small group homes have been opened throughout the country and procurement of up to 35 new small group homes is now underway to expand the number of quality alternatives for children in residential care.
A total of 50 new social workers have been recruited in partnership with NGOs Every Child and Save the Children. The social workers will geographically be spread across Georgia and will go through comprehensive social work training in May. In January 2012, 30 of the 50 social workers will be hired directly into the Government statutory social work positions.
In parallel, considerable efforts are underway to enhance foster care services throughout the country. A large targeted outreach and recruitment campaign to inform and attract potential foster carers has been conducted. Training for new foster carers will follow shortly, and placements of children identified as suitable for foster care will be supported in the coming months.
UNICEF, in partnership with the NGOs EveryChild, Save the Children, First Step and Children of Georgia and with the financial support from USAID, supports the Government of Georgia in implementing the new Child Care System Reform Plan of Action for 2011-2012. The new Action Plan stipulates the closing down of all the remaining large scale institutions in the country; strengthening of social work; expanding the quantity and quality of foster care; scaling up the number of small group homes, each catering for no more than 8-10 children; and strengthening of services for prevention of child abandonment.
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