2011 Azerbaijan: Mid-Term review of the State Programme on Deinstitutionalization and Alternative Care in Azerbaijan 2011
Author: Vesna Bosnjak and Tamerlan Rajabov
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In March 2006 the President of the Azerbaijani Republic endorsed the State Program on Deinstitutionalization and Alternative Care (SPDIAC) for 2006-2015. The major focus of the State Program has been on prevention family separation, reduction of entries and acceleration of exits from residential institutions, downsizing and/or transforming and/or closing down residential institutions and provision of alternative care for at risk children and families.
The year of 2011 was the momentum for conducting a mid-year review of the SPDIAC. The mid term review is the most appropriate label for this study since its emphasis has to include to considerable extent revision of plans and timetables expected to be accomplished beyond the year 2011.
Considerable amount of work has been carried out since the adoption of the State Program including establishment of the specialized Department on Deinstitutionalization and Child Protection under the Ministry of Education.
In spite of the above, there were delays in carrying out the State Program in terms of consolidating the new coordination structures as well as due to gaps in enactment of secondary legislation indispensable for legitimization of new practices, beyond the pilot districts. During the program implementation overlapping among different mandates of State organs and unclear division of labor among national, regional and local organs have persisted.
The purpose of this study is two fold: evaluative and projective. The objectives and dimensions of the evaluative part of the study have to do with relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of government's regulation and action for the implementation of the institutional transformation and corresponding child care polices and programs.
Projective part of the study is centered on the development of inputs for continuation of deinstitutionalization and child care reform in Azerbaijan, beyond the year 2011.
The study object is composed of four components, which required different levels and methods of enquiry:
• Institutions in transformation, their staff and children who are deinstitutionalized
• Coordination structures, gate keeping structures and mechanisms for reduction of entries and acceleration of exits to residential institutions
• Community based and family substitute services for children at risk of institutionalization and for after care of deinstitutionalized children
• Legal and other regulation preventing institutionalization and facilitating deinstitutionalization
The immediate results of the above study will provide the basis for revision and amendments to the State Program on Deinstitutionalization and Alternative Care for 2006-2015 and for Master Plan of Transformation of Child Care Residential Institutions.
The longer-term relevance of the above study is linked to future State action in the reform of child protection, inclusive education and health system.
Thus, the key recipients of the study (as drivers of change) are the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministries and State organs at the district level in charge of social protection, health and education, in accordance with their mandate in the above fields as well as UNICEF.
The study results will be shared with other stakeholders from civil society whose role in the deinstitutionalization and child care reform has been important and whose inputs in this study were significant.
Questionnaires and surveys: four specific questionnaires for different stakeholders; reunified children , institutional staff, NGOs and for Commissions on Minors were developed. After translation of questionnaires into Azerbaijani they were tested and adjusted accordingly. 37 children, 8 directors and deputies of residential institutions, 7 managers or specialists from NGOs involved in deinstitutionalization programs and several government functionaries performing gatekeeping, management and/or information gathering functions took part in the formal part of the study while 15 government and NGO representatives participated in the workshops reflecting on future challenges.
• Apart from the Recommendations regarding improvements in the implementation of the main components of the State program, recommended are elaboration of special Amendments to the State program (2006 to 2015) (or new intersectoral agreements) to be developed in the year 2012.These should contain strategic goals and courses of action confirmed by intersectoral protocols with functions and performance indicators for each involved sector other duty bearers and NGOs. These Amendments should refer to 1. Protection of mothers at risk and children in the age group from 0 to 3 years and 2. Protection of Children with disabilities.
• The first topic is considered urgent in the view of evidence that deinstitutionalization targets for children in the most vulnerable group, i.e. the youngest ages, have not been achieved and that advancements in adoption, foster care and prevention of child abandonment have to be linked with transformation of health institutions for these groups of women and children.
• The second should be linked with recent government deliberations regarding inclusive education, which should be complemented with changes in social protection, rehabilitation and financial entitlements for children with disabilities.
• The third set of Recommendations are the ones linked with financial engineering, management and allocations within education sector and in the overall sphere of child care services and entitlements.
• And finally, the study Recommendation is that apart from internal strengthening of monitoring and performance of civil servants and more effective appeal mechanisms for service users, Inspection and other accountability mechanisms be carried out by external bodies such as Ombudsman, Human Rights Organizations or State Commission with members representing civil society.
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