25 February 2019

New service will help keep children out of orphanages in one of Europe’s poorest country

We’re delighted to announce that an eagerly-awaited new family support service opened this week in Moldova. Developed with the help of our partners, CCF, the official opening of the Balti Early Intervention Service (EIS) marks a small, but important step towards keeping families together and preventing children entering the orphanage system in the north of the country.

Poverty is one of the main reasons that children are separated from their families and confined to loveless institutions in Moldova, a former Soviet Republic where the average salary is less than 300 euros a month.

The new Early Intervention Service (EIS) is vitally important to give the parents of vulnerable babies and toddlers the support they need to care for their children at home. The main centre offers specialist advice, support and early diagnosis to the families of children who have developmental delays. There is also a mobile team of professionals who can visit families in the community further afield.

Demetria’s Story

Demetria and her foster parents are one of the families who will benefit enormously from this service.

Demetria is an active, friendly and kind little girl who likes to play with other children in her foster family. However at 2 years and 7 months, she still does not speak; instead she can only point and use gestures to communicate. She was 5 months old when she was placed with an emergency foster family. Her mum had mental health problems and was hospitalized after frequent epileptic seizures. Her dad was in prison. After three weeks, her mum was allowed home and Demetria was reunited with her. However, after two months, she was placed again into the same foster family for long-term care. The main cause was parental neglect, due to her mum’s limited caregiving skills.

Tests showed a 3-4 month delay in Demetria’s development at this point. Her foster family were very caring and worked hard to stimulate and support her. However, they urgently needed specialist advice and support as they were unsure of her needs.

The family live in a town 30 km from Balti and have been eagerly anticipating the opening of the new Early Intervention Service with its mobile team. They are in desperate need of speech therapy for Demetria and know she would benefit from a professional assessment of her needs so she has a better chance of meeting the milestones for her age.

When asked, our team in Moldova said that if in the past 2 years Demetria’s family had had access to early intervention services, she would definitely have made greater progress and the family felt better supported to care for the her needs.

With the right interventions, Demetria and her foster parents can now look forward to a brighter future, where they are supported to stay together as a family.

The funding for the new service came from many sources. The renovation work on the building, some furniture and a vehicle came from Hope and Homes for Children, construction materials were donated locally and 11% of costs were covered by in-country fundraising.

Among the 35 people who attended the opening were representatives from UNICEF, the UK Embassy, Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection (MHLSP), heads of other Early Interventions Services, Balti Local Public Authorities, and other professionals from the region.

Our work in Moldova

Hope and Homes for Children has been working in Moldova since 2001, initially working to strengthen family and community-based alternatives to orphanages. In 2005 we entered a long-term partnership with CCF Moldova to drive forward the reform of the national child protection system. We piloted the first closure of an orphanage in the country, as well as the closure of the first institution for children with disabilities. We are now on the brink of completing the first closure of institution for babies and young children. Our work over the last decade has seen the number of children living in orphanages reduce from 11,000 to approximately 1,000. You can read about our work in Moldova at this link.

If you would like to learn more about our professional or advocacy work please do get in touch.