27 November 2016

Ukraine Government backs pioneering support service for children and families

We are delighted to announce that, after years of negotiation and repeated set-backs, the Government of Ukraine has formally recognised our innovative Family Support Centres as an official part of the country’s child protection system.

In 2011, Hope and Homes for Children opened the Ray of Hope Centre in Markariv in the Kyiv Oblast. The centre was the first of its kind in the country and helps to prevent children being sent to orphanages by giving families the support they need to stay together.  The services provided include pre-school day care, mother and baby units and emergency reception centres to offer short-term care for children whose families are in crisis. In addition, the Centres ensure that social workers have the training they need to help children from orphanages return to their families or join safe, loving foster families.  In 2014 we opened a second Centre in Dnipropetrovsk.

Over the last seven years, our Family Support Centres have served as a model and provided an evidence base for child protection reform across Ukraine. More than 500 representatives of other NGOs, government officials and politicians have visited the Centres to see our work, including the President and the First Lady of Ukraine.

Now the Ukrainian Government has finally recognised the Family Support Centres as an official part of the country’s social service system. This means the service can be replicated across Ukraine making improved family support available country-wide.

Hope and Homes for Children in Ukraine has spent four years attempting to secure official recognition for the Family Support Centres. On four separate occasions the process was derailed as a result of ongoing political stability and repeated changes of leadership at national, regional and local level. That Government approval for the Centres has now been achieved is a testament to the tenacity of our team and opens the way to a brighter future for vulnerable children in Ukraine.

Kateryna and Tatiana’s story

Kateryna and her mother, Tatiana, are one of the many families who have benefited from the services provided by the Centres.

When Kateryna was born, social workers were concerned that she might be abandoned to an orphanage because her mother, Tatiana, did not feel able to cope with caring for her.

They referred Tatiana and Kateryna to the Mother and Baby Unit at the Family Centre, established by Hope and Homes for Children in Dnipropetrovsk.

Tatiana had had a very difficult life, growing-up in a large family where many of the adults, including her own mother, struggled with alcohol abuse. The family was shunned by its neighbours and Tatiana and her siblings were not allowed to attend the local nursery school. Tatiana’s mother died when Tatiana was still young and by the time she was in her teens, Tatiana was also addicted to alcohol.

Specialist staff at the Mother and Baby Unit helped Tatiana to understand her addiction and to successfully complete a treatment programme, They taught her how to take care of  Kateryna; not only how to feed, bathe and dress her baby appropriately but how to play with her daughter and give her the love and attention that Tatiana herself had never received.

Our staff organised a place for Kateryna at a local nursery so that Tatiana was able to look for work. She now has a job as a caretaker which means that she has been able to rent a place to live independently with Kateryna. Tatiana and Kateryna still visit the Family Support Centre several times a week and social workers are monitoring their progress.

Tatiana says, “I feel that I can bring up my child and live with her by myself. It’s so good to have a job and a nursery close to home and close to the Centre. I will never go back to my old life. There have been lots of challenges but I have learned so many things and this is my chance for a future”.