The Family for Each Child project: placement in families of children who are in boarding schools
About 6,000 boys and girls live in boarding institutions in Belarus. Among them are orphans and children whose parents have been deprived of parental rights. About 2,300 children in boarding schools have disabilities.
Every child has the right to live in a family environment. Life in residential institutions without parental care causes developmental delays in boys and girls.
There are three systems to address family issues in Belarus: the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, and the Ministry of Health. It depends on the coherence of their efforts how quickly social workers identify problems in the family and whether they can help.
Unfortunately, assistance to families is not always provided in a coordinated manner. There is a lack of an individual approach to families: informational support (how to find a job, how to get social housing or how to get financial assistance) and psychological support (psychological counselling for all family members).
In addition, there is a lack of information about alternative modalities of child-placement (guardianship, foster families, family-type orphanages), and there are not enough professionals capable to set up and support foster families. As a rule, small children are adopted, while older children remain in boarding schools.
Parents of children with disabilities lack a barrier-free environment and even basic information on how to raise a child with additional needs. As a result, such children are sent to a boarding school, and it is very challenging to find a foster family for them.
Together with our partners — the Let's Help Children Together International Association, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, the Ministry of Health, — we help children to reconnect with their parents using case management.
We have trained about 20 case managers and an additional interdisciplinary team (social workers, psychologists, etc.) in the Gomel Oblast, and we have expanded it to the Vitebsk Oblast.
Case managers identify problems that have placed the family in a critical situation: low income, unemployment of parents, poor relationships with each other, or other difficulties. They support parents: they advise them on social benefits, help them find a job, and they refer them to professional psychologists. As a result, the child is not removed from the family.
We have been developing alternative child-placement modalities such as adoption, guardianship, foster families, family-type orphanages in order to be able to effectively look for new families for children and to help children find a new family.
We draft guides for foster parents and train social workers from Social Educational Centers (SECs) and other institutions on how to work with foster parents.
41 children found their families in 2021 under the Family for Every Child pilot program launched in the Gomel Oblast. In 2022, the program launched in the Vitebsk Oblast, too.
Reminder for foster parents raising children from 0 to 4 years (available only in Russian).
Brochure on the placement of children: guardianship, adoption, family-type orphanage (available only in Russian).