UKRAINE: Support for Street and At-Risk Children and Youth
In Ukraine, an estimated 100,000 children and youth are orphaned or deprived of family care, while over 145,000 adolescents are housed in state institutions. Without family support, young people live in extremely precarious circumstances, often facing discrimination, isolation, and physical and sexual violence, and engage in high-risk behaviors, including crime and drug abuse. With few places to turn for help, children living on the street and in institutions suffer from health problems ranging from malnutrition and HIV infection to severe depression and emotional trauma.
HealthRight International is responding to this challenge by supporting the Ukrainian government’s efforts to develop a network of comprehensive care for at-risk and homeless youth. Based on the success of our programs in Russia, HealthRight has established a Drop-in Center to provide youth with rights-based counseling and social services. Once fully established and adapted to the local context, this program will serve as one model within the government’s nationwide plans to reform child welfare, including establishing centers for social and psychological rehabilitation of neglected and abandoned children.
Increasing access to care and support
HealthRight’s Drop-in Center (DIC) for street and at-risk children and youth in Chernihiv provides street and at-risk children and youth with a friendly and secure place to access medical, psychosocial, and legal support services that acknowledge their rights and dignity. A large network of partnerships with local government and nonprofit agencies also facilitates access to medical services and education. Over time, youth develop trusting relationships with staff at the center, which enable their transition to a long-term shelter, re-integration with their family, placement with a foster family, or establishment of an independent living situation.
Building capacity of public services
By partnering with local, regional, and national government health and child welfare agencies, HealthRight increases knowledge and skills in meeting the special medical, psychological, and social needs of street children and at-risk youth.
Transferring successful approaches
After successfully establishing DICs that implement a comprehensive and rights-based approach, HealthRight will transfer management of these services to the local government, thereby ensuring their continuity, as well as the community’s investment in the rights and needs of this marginalized population.
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