Russia: Foster Family Project
The political and economic turmoil following the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a rapid rise in the number of children and youth living in state care or on the streets. Although life on the street can cause serious harm to the health and wellbeing of children and youth, institutions do not offer a much better option. A recent study found that among “graduates” of state orphanages or children’s homes in Russia, nearly 30% had gone to prison, 20% were living on the streets and, shockingly, as many as 10% had committed suicide.
In cooperation with our local partner Doctors to Children (DTC), HealthRight International has been working since 2003 to place children and youth without parental support in a caring, family environment, and to create a sustainable support network for existing and prospective foster families. The components of this project include:
Public Service Campaign
Foster care is a relatively new social service in Russia, and there is a low level of awareness of what foster care entails. HealthRight and DTC have launched an ambitious media campaign to generate greater understanding about the benefits of foster care among the general public in St. Petersburg as well as to recruit potential foster parents.
School for Foster Parents
HealthRight and DTC staff members provide comprehensive training to potential foster parents through the School for Foster Parents, a ten-session course that educates participants about the psychological, social, legal, and medical aspects of foster care.
Support of Foster Families
Project staff and partners continue to provide multidisciplinary assistance to foster families after a child has been placed in their care, including psychosocial support, legal consultations, medical services, and psychological and family counseling.
Club for Foster Families
To help build the cohesiveness of newly-formed foster families, the Club for Foster Families helps improve the skills and knowledge of foster parents through peer support and exchanges of personal experience.