RUSSIA: Support for Street and At-Risk Children and Youth

A resident at the halfway house
in St. Petersburg
Neglected, abandoned, or left behind, hundreds of street and at-risk children and youth live in unstable and unhealthy environments in St. Petersburg and other cities throughout the Russian Federation.  Without any form of support network or adult guidance – let alone a warm, safe place to sleep, eat, or study – these children and youth are vulnerable to disease, addiction, sexual exploitation, and violence.  Public health, education, and other social services are routinely denied to street and at-risk children and youth, eliminating the only safety net available.  Many end up in institutions, where their prospects for a healthy and successful future remain bleak.
HealthRight International has been working to address the needs of street and at-risk children and youth in St. Petersburg since 1994, creating community-based, sustainable projects to reduce children’s homelessness and institutionalization.  In addition to helping thousands of children and youth and successfully advocating for increased attention on the part of the government, our efforts have resulted in the establishment of a Russian nonprofit organization, Doctors to Children (DTC), which has become a vital partner in both developing and implementing projects.
Providing support through Drop-In Centers
HealthRight has established Drop-In Centers (DIC) to provide street and at risk children and youth with a safe place to access medical, psychosocial, and legal support services that acknowledge their rights and dignity.  Additionally, the DICs assist youth with placements in family-type homes and vocational programs, improving their chances for a better future.  In 2007, HealthRight, DTC, and the Kalininsky District Administration of St. Petersburg opened the Halfway House for At-Risk Youth, which provides long-term shelter for young people transitioning into independent and stable lives. 
Training service providers
Often suffering from severe depression, developmental disabilities, drug addiction, and trauma resulting from sexual and physical abuse, street and at-risk children and youth have specific needs that require a sensitive and understanding approach.  To ensure appropriate care, HealthRight multi-disciplinary teams including Russian physicians, nurses, psychologists, and social workers train staff at youth shelters and DICs in case management and comprehensive care.
Partnering with the public sector
Collaboration with the local government has strengthened support for HealthRight’s programs for street and at-risk children and youth and has raised awareness and public commitment to address child welfare as a social and human rights imperative.




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