More children in safe, supported families thanks to the reform of child care system
TBILISI, 6 October, 2011. The Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs Mr Andrew Urushadze, Head of the Social Service Agency Mr Irakli Nadareishvili, and UNICEF Representative in Georgia Mr Roeland Monasch are visiting a family with two foster children in Rustavi, Georgia to see how the ongoing child care system reform affects children and families.
The children being visited are among many others who are benefitting from the reform - the main goal being that every child in Georgia grows up in a family environment. Considerable efforts are now 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 is underway, and placements of children identified as suitable for foster care is happening.
Thanks to the reform led by the Government of Georgia and supported by USAID, UNICEF and other partners, the number of children living in institutions has reduced from 5000 to 915 over the last five years. The total number of institutions have reduced from 46 to 18 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, promoting alternatives to institutions like foster care, small group homes and adoption; strengthening the role of social workers; and establishment of regional bodies of guardianship.
This year has seen major progress. 224 children who could not stay with their biological families have been successfully placed in foster families rather than in institutions. 3 large institutions have been closed so far, with 5 additional large institutions to be closed before the end of the year. The refurbishment of 25 new small group homes is now underway to expand the number of quality alternatives for children in residential care.
For foster care to be successful, social work needs to be strengthened. A total of 50 new social workers have been recruited, trained and placed into the Social Service Agency.