“I’ve been waiting for this day for 20 years” – Halyna Postoliuk’s heartfelt speech at the Ukraine Recovery Conference

Headshot of Halyna Postoliuk

The Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC), co-hosted by the UK Government and the Government of Ukraine, took place from 1st – 22nd June in London. The URC is an event dedicated to Ukraine’s transformation.

The URC side event, “Care Reform: a Ukraine Reconstruction Priority”, hosted by Hope and Homes for Children, the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), Government of Ukraine, UNICEF and Lumos brought together key stakeholders to focus on the care reform process in Ukraine, provide a platform for the Government of Ukraine to articulate its vision of Better Care and offer an opportunity to build support for a co-ordinated care reform strategy in Ukraine.

Watch Ukraine country director Halyna Postoliuk’s heartfelt speech on the opportunities for child care and protection reform in Ukraine, during the closing session of the Ukraine Recovery Conference side event, hosted in London at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office headquarters.

Video transcript

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m very privileged to be here.

And I’ll just share the thoughts which came to my mind just now.

All my professional career, I was waiting for this day, which is more than 20 years working in the field of deinstitutionalisation, advocating for child protection and child care reform in Ukraine.

My takeaway from the conference was that, alongside rebuilding the physical infrastructure, all the speakers said
“we’re building a Ukraine inclusive for all citizens, including the most vulnerable children and people with disabilities.”

It’s where our child protection and care reform step in.

There is an urgency for this reform as never before.

And there is tremendous opportunity and momentum for this reform.

We already mentioned why it’s urgent, and many speakers said what the rate of institutionalisation of children in Ukraine was before the war.

But I wanted to stress that there is a very high risk of increasing numbers or new placement of children in institutions, due to the situation, we have with the trauma of parents, with the trauma of children, with poverty, which, according to the World Bank prognosis, will be 25% of the population by the end of this year.

It’s all these factors which may lead to family separation and further institutionalisation.

As you probably know, Ukraine made a few attempts to reform the system.

Some progress was made.

But we didn’t succeed. It was a piecemeal approach to this reform; to develop some elements instead of a holistic, systemic approach to the change, which includes policies, legislation, and reinforcement of finances. All those things which should be included.

We have opportunities.

And the opportunity I see first is EU accession.

Because, we need the precondition, for all our governments who are in power, to follow this criteria.

And, finally, we have this condition. And we have also international support.

But, what is very much of importance, is that we have a presidential, personal commitment to this reform. We have political will. So we have these things together. And our task is to use these opportunities because we don’t have the right to fail this time.

We need investments not in institutions, we need investments in families and services in communities.

The investments in such families like Andriiy’s who lost their homes in Mariupol, and want to provide childcare in Dnipropetrovsk region.

They were given a very small house, which wasn’t in use for many years.

I never knew that something could be done with that!

But we helped them, to help the children. And just a week ago, three boys, three siblings, were placed in this family, after spending four months in hospital, because they don’t have another choice.

So please support us, because our forces, our country, fight for freedom, and we can’t allow for our children and our children and children with disabilities to still be in prison.