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Foster care (Part 2)

Foster care video by Andriy Chuprikov
Why is foster care important for the children in Ukraine? Ukraine also should create possibilities for our kids who are orphans, or who are without parents of care to life in family environment, too. This is one issue, and the second issue is a child who lives in family, who lives in a foster family, can receive the same support, the same care, as a child in an “original” family– with their parents. And can receive enough education, can receive also love, and can be developed as a child in families of origin.
Ukraine started this process of fostering development in 2006, and from that time, Ukraine actually increased three times children living in a family environment in foster families, and it’s something like now we have 15,000 children who are living in foster families. Nevertheless, we need foster families for our kids to protect their rights, and to create possibilities for them to live in families Does fostering in Ukraine provide temporary placements? Based on legislation, foster placement and foster caring in Ukraine is a temporary solution. Based on our legislation, the best for a child is family of origin, and governmental authorities should do their best in order to keep the family, original family for a child. And the second priority is adoption.
And fostering is only a temporary solution to place a child while governmental authorities should work on returning re-integrated child to biological family, to find a family for adoption, or to place a child in kinship care for their relatives. And even a recent change in legislation told that even foster parents, caregivers, also should actively participate in the reintegrating of children to a biological family, or to find family for adoption. But unfortunately, it’s based on the legislation. In many cases, parents, caregivers are not prepared for returning children to a biological family, or to be adopted by another people.
Even sometimes local authorities, when a person goes to a local authority, and comes and says that I would like to adopt a child, they propose not to adopt but to receive some incentives and to create foster family. And one difficulty is because in, let’s say, in our children village families, there are a lot of big sibling groups– like five children, seven children, and, of course, to find adoptive family for such big sibling groups, it’s difficult. And another issue is problems and the lack of resources of state social institutions who should work for integration of children or for children adoption.
We here at SOS, we are in better condition because we have lot of our specialists, psychologist, and pedagogues, and other specialists who can work on this. How do you choose foster carers in Ukraine, and do children participate in decision making? Actually the process of choosing foster parents starts from public advertisement that state authorities or charitable organisations, like SOS, are looking for foster parents.
And we would be happy to receive application from everybody who would like to be a foster parent. But then started the process of selection, which is not very easy, and which takes time and effort. We will have state licence training for people who would like to be foster parents. And after five days training, which includes many different aspects of working as a foster parent, then people can be, let’s say, advised to be a foster parents– or not advised because of some different, let’s say, psychological issues, or some pedagogical issues, or during the training it was found that that motivation of these people is not to care for kids, for example, but to receive accommodation and some incentives and so on.
And then, if a person receives this recommendation to be a foster parent, then person can apply their documents to special governmental body, which is called the Child Protection Department, which exists in each city, in each district, if it’s a big city. And then, if there are some children, orphaned children, or children without parental care, the children are placed to a foster family. And based on legislation, a child has the right, if a child already has 10 or 12 years, or can say they are, let’s say, decisions as they would like to be joined to this or that particular family, a child can participate even during the court process, and during the process of creation of foster families.
So we always try to find the right family for this particular child. Unfortunately, in practise, in families, foster families which are created by the government, it’s not happening like this because, in many cases, there is no qualified people in Child Protection Department who can care for this process and another issue is that there are not enough families.

In this video, Chrissie Gale talks to Andriy Chuprikov, who lives and works in Ukraine, and asks him about foster care programmes in his country.

Andriy has been National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine since 2008. He has more than fifteen years of experience working in human rights protection including Tacis EU programmes and World Bank Group business development projects. His public activities include being a member of the UK-Ukraine Professional Network under British Council in Ukraine.

Andriy reflects on some of the challenges of developing a foster care system and provides specific examples of this in the context of Ukraine.

Whilst listening to Andriy it would be helpful for us to consider the investment needed to ensure a safe, effective, and high quality foster care service. Although in some countries foster care can be less costly than residential care, start-up costs may initially be quite high. It is essential, however, that all necessary investment is made if we are to uphold the “suitability” principle.

We might also consider the issue of remuneration and allowances for foster carers. Are such payments appropriate? What levels should they be set at? Who should receive them, and what are the advantages, but also possible challenges this might create? Is it an allowance that is provided for the child’s needs or is it a “salary” on top of the child’s needs? Some countries find it important to provide an allowance to foster carers. In others, paying foster carers can lead to such difficulties as resentment in the community where, for example, informal kinship carers receive nothing. Research in Bulgaria, for example, has shown that some parents with children with disabilities would not have relinquished their children into alternative care if they had been provided with financial assistance to cover additional health care and other costs.

Finally, let us consider how the creation of foster care should not be the panacea for replacing the use of institutions or other forms of residential care. It is not the answer for deinstitutionalisation to move children out of institutions into foster care without also first considering reintegration.

The texts in the ‘See Also’ section below were used when creating this week’s materials – you can consult them for more information on the topic.

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Getting Care Right for All Children: Implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

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