Thousands trained to shelter children separated from families in Ukraine

05 July 2022
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UNICEF

More than a thousand Ukrainian families have been trained in how to shelter children left without parental care, thanks to a campaign from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners. 

Selected families met with psychologists, teachers and social work specialists to learn about adaptation tools, features of care and the upbringing of temporarily placed children. 

They are among over 21,000 people who have used the Telegram bot @dytyna_ne_sama_bot to apply to shelter children since the start of the "Leave No Child Alone" campaign in March, with more families set to begin training in July. 

Millions of children have been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, with many separated from their families and exposed to deeply traumatic events. These children urgently need safety, stability, child protection services and psychosocial support – especially those who are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families. 

The “Leave No Child Alone” campaign was launched by the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Rights of Children and Children Rehabilitation, the Office of the President of Ukraine, together with UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Policy. 

"This huge number of people willing to shelter a child is really impressive,” says Daria Herasimchuk, Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Rights of Children and Children Rehabilitation. “It is an important step towards the public understanding that a child should grow up in a family, not in an institution. I want to thank everyone who expressed a desire to shelter a child and, for those who have not yet been called, I'd like to ask for patience.”

Children's services across Ukraine have access to a list of families and will contact them when there is a need to temporarily place a child. This includes over 90,000 children who were in institutional forms of education before the war. 

"Over 1,000 families have already been trained, and it's just the beginning,” says Maryna Lazebna, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine. “I hope it would be a start for foster families'  development, as well as for the development of other family forms of upbringing and adoption after the victory. Sometimes destruction encourages building something new, not rebuilding the past. I believe that we will unite to build a future in which every child in our country will grow up in a loving family.”

 

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UNICEF

As a result of the first cohort of families trained, six families have already provided a temporary home for children. A social worker is assigned to each child to ensure the best interests of the child, and provide support and advice to families.

Tetiana, a doctor from the Cherkasska region, has been sheltering a seven-year-old boy with autism who was staying at a medical facility.

"When I saw a television story about a child being evacuated abroad, I realized there are many children who are seeking help,” says Tetiana. “That's how I discovered the chatbot ‘Leave No Child Alone’ and registered. Soon, they contacted me.” 

“When children grow up outside a family environment, their chances to develop to their full potential drop,” says Murat Shakhin, Head of UNICEF Ukraine. “We are committed to scaling up the efforts of partners, increasing the number of trained families and fostering carers to raise children in their own homes, or with their families, and looking after their best interests under the direct and constant supervision of the social workers across Ukraine. Our vision is to leave no child alone, and the training of the first 1,000 families is a huge step towards a family environment for every child in Ukraine.”

“During the war, the number of children deprived of parental care has grown,” adds Zhanna Petrochko, expert of the Partnership for Every Child NGO. “That means they may live in an institution. This provokes a big trauma for any child. I believe that families trained through the project will help to minimize the number of children entering institutions. They're willing to help those children, shelter them and provide good care. This is crucial for foster families' development and a breakthrough in the process of deinstitutionalization.” 

According to conditions of temporary housing, a child may stay with a foster family until martial law ends or parents or relatives are found. If a child is without relatives, a family who provides temporary housing receives the right to adoption or guardianship.

As part of the "Leave No Child Alone" campaign, a website aimed at preventing child rights violations has been launched. The site provides information on how to support children without parental care, guidance on temporary housing and ways of dealing with psychological trauma. It also outlines the procedures for adoption and temporary shelter, explains the regulatory framework for the protection of children's rights, and provides advice for psychologists and journalists covering this topic in the media.  

UNICEF has been working with Ukraine’s Government and partners to develop and promote family-based care for children, as part of efforts to decrease the number of children in institutions which, even before the war, was the highest in Europe.

Media contacts

Olha Pryshko
Communications Specialist
UNICEF in Ukraine

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