Foster care workshop in Kazakhstan
Japanese Government Funds Foster Care Initiative in Kazakhstan.
ALMATY. 14-15 March, 2005. The Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science, UNICEF Kazakhstan and the Women’s League of Creative Initiatives NGO will host a workshop on foster care, 14-15 March in Almaty, with funds provided by the Government of Japan.The workshop is a response to continued institutionalization of children in Kazakhstan. As a result of widespread poverty and family breakdown, many children were abandoned in the 1990s. Today, despite some improvements in the trends, around 74,000 children are growing up in 614 residential institutions across the country, according to the Ministry of Education and Science. At the same time, a growing number of Kazakh families are eager to foster or adopt a child.
“The good news is that the number of foster families has doubled in every oblast – or region – of Kazakhstan since 2003,” says Tatiana Aderikhina, UNICEF Child Education and Protection Officer.
“In the most densely populated South-Kazakhstan oblast the number of foster families soared from 400 to 950 in 2004 alone, and the numbers are still going up,” says Aderikhina. “We can build on this, but it is essential to get a clear set of standards and monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure the well-being of children in foster care.
“This workshop is a step towards the creation of a protective environment for children who, for one reason or another, are not living with their parents. It is an opportunity for Kazakhstan to improve the infrastructure for social work, service delivery, professional advice and support to families.
Part of a campaign to promote foster care
The workshop: “Strategy for Foster Care and Family Support Development at Local Level”, has been made possible by Japanese funding through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security. Funds totaling $2 million were allocated to UNICEF in 2004 to get children out of orphanages and back into families across Central Asia.
The workshop will be the first in a range of UNICEF-supported national and regional trainings for foster care specialists. The workshop aims to boost understanding of foster care, improve skills and practices, and involve government representatives in efforts to ensure that children grow up in a family environment.
Participants in the workshop will include local foster care and orphanage experts from all part of Kazakhstan who report to the Ministry of Education and Science, local NGOs, representatives from the Japanese Mission in Kazakhstan, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Volunteer Services Overseas (UK), as well as mass media.
Last year, with support from UNICEF, the Government of Kazakhstan established benefits for foster families and developed foster care guidelines and procedures.
Japanese funding supports the project: “Every Child has a Right to Grow-up in a Family Environment”. UNICEF is working with the Government on this 2005-2007 programme to re-unite families, establish community-based social centres to promote foster care and in-country adoption and consult families that may be at risk of institutionalizing their children – the end result will be the creation of “gate-keeping” mechanisms that will prevent child institutionalisation.
For more information:Gauhar Abdygaliyeva, Communication Officer, UNICEF Kazakhstan
Tel: +7- 3172 32 83 07