The horrible war which Russia started against Ukraine on February 24, 2022 has significantly aggravated the already tough situation with orphans and other at-risk children residing in Ukrainian orphanages. 106,000 children were in orphanages in Ukraine on the day the war started. The author of this study visited most of the existing institutions in various regions of Ukraine. Ukrainian children deserve a better life than orphanages offer. UNICEF and most children experts in Ukraine agree that any form of foster care would imply a significant improvement for orphans and other at-risk children. Our program continues to monitor status with orphans and other at-risk children in Ukraine and offers a mechanism of relief and support for today’s Ukrainian orphans and other children in need through the individual child sponsorship program to give potential sponsors an opportunity to give a present for upcoming Christmas (celebrated in Ukraine on January 7). Please visit: https://helpchildreninukraine.org
Some officials responsible for organizing FTHs and FFs in Ukraine mentioned in their interviews (with child protective services of Ukraine) that there are FF and FTH candidates with questions like “if we form FTH, who will own the house?” Once they learn the house will be owned by the government they leave and never come back, which means there are people who may be trying to take advantage of the situation and their goal is to get a house from the government rather than foster a child. This only confirms that the selection mechanism of prospective parents must be tough and future monitoring of FTH is obligatory.
A study on protection of human rights in state supported institutions of all types was solicited by the local government of Kharkiv region (eastern Ukraine), supported by the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine and carried out in Kharkiv a few years ago. Its results were unambiguous: although the current status of FTHs and FFs in Ukraine is not perfect yet, the family form of caring for orphans is “much more progressive and has significant potential”. According to Law of Ukraine “On Social-Legal Protection of Children Deprived of Parental Care” of January 2005 and President’s Decree 1086/2005 of July 2005 it is the prerogative of the State to identify and train professional parents to take care of orphans. The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine is tasked by the President to create a holistic system of preparation and training of professional workers who would provide social supervision to FTH and FF parents. Although there are not enough high quality trainers in Ukraine yet, this work is on-going. Several professionals have been identified in Canada and other countries who agreed to provide technical assistance in the area of promoting FTHs and FFs, however, funds need to be identified to invite such specialists to Ukraine to quickly help Ukrainian experts further improve the system of selection and training of foster parents. Some printed material as well as web resources have been prepared. Western experts have given a good start in providing technical advice and training, however, these efforts are not sufficient on the national scale.
We continue to monitor the development with FF and FTHs in Ukraine will provide updates in future articles.