On the frontline of Coronavirus for children and families: Ukraine
Around the world, Hope and Homes for Children’s skilled and experienced frontline staff are working harder than ever to keep all children safe where they belong: in loving families. Information officer, Olesia Doluda, explains how our team in Ukraine is overcoming new challenges to keep children safe and families together in the face of Coronavirus.
Our main concern from the start of the emergency has been to protect the children and staff who rely on the services that we helped to develop, following the closure of the orphanage in Dnipro, Central Ukraine. These include a Centre for Social Support where vulnerable families can find the specialist services they need to stay together, an Emergency Placement Unit for children who need short-term alternative care and a Small Group Home for a limited number of children who cannot return to their families or be fostered or adopted.
In recent weeks we have helped with transport, masks and other protective equipment so that the staff at the Centre can still come to care for children in the Emergency Placement Unit. It was very difficult as there is a great shortage in Ukraine but we managed to find a supplier to deliver hand sanitiser, gloves and masks—but only enough to last a few days. Despite the very tiny salary the carers receive from the local authority and the great pressure they are under now, they continue to work very hard to look after the children.
Our regional co-ordinator, Darya Doschuk, has stayed at the Centre to monitor the situation and provide all possible support to the children and the families who rely on the services there. Last week she held a meeting with children and she explained them the current situation in the country and the world, the symptoms of the disease, the safety and hygiene measures and the rules of the behaviour during the quarantine and answered their questions as well.
“The situation has worsened dramatically. Families are becoming even poorer and they have no resources even to buy essentials including food.”
Our second focus has been to collect information about the most vulnerable children and families in the community, including from the beneficiaries of the Centre, as the local authority social workers are now mostly working remotely and do not monitor the situation. And the situation has worsened dramatically.
Families are becoming even poorer and they have no resources even to buy essentials including food. We have collected data on 75 families and 222 children who desperately need support. And we have managed to purchase essential goods for them and prepare parcels of supplies which we will safely deliver to these families, together with information leaflets about the Coronavirus in coming days.
“Our work to keep families together and to prevent institutionalisation is especially urgent now because otherwise, we will see many more children sent to orphanages without the chance to be cared for as individuals”
The families now need much more support as their lives have become much more complicated. They have lost even their small sources of income. They have lost their jobs and have no opportunity to find new ones during the quarantine. They have little or no access to the medicines and treatment they need and there is a lack of food, especially in the rural areas and a lack of funds to buy it. Prices have increased and there is no transport, except by private car or taxi, which our families cannot afford.
Families also have to find the means to look after their children full-time because the schools and kindergartens are closed.
Our work to keep families together and to prevent institutionalisation is especially urgent now because otherwise, we will see many more children sent to orphanages without the chance to be cared for as individuals, to develop their own personalities and have a happy, bright future, which all children deserve. So today, your support for vulnerable children and their families is needed more than ever.