In St. Petersburg, about 4 thousand children are institutionalized in orphanages, boarding-schools, and babies’ homes. Besides, about 2.5 thousand lose parental support annually, with a half placed in institutions and only 40% taken under guardianship, ususally by their relatives. The remaining 10% are adopted or returned to their birth parents. Placement in institutions does not meet the child’s need in parental love and care. Presently, the promotion of family-based care is hindered mainly by low public awareness of the problems of orphans and services available to them.
Since 1999, HealthRight social workers, psychologists, and doctors, and Doctors to Children staff (since 2001), have been facilitating the placement of children from shelters and orphanages in foster families in St. Petersburg. The Foster Family Project has several priorities: search for potential foster parents, provision of counseling and training to a prospective foster family at the School for Foster Parents, and provision of follow-up services to newly-formed families. The project public awareness campaign helps to find parents willing to take a child to their families. Additionally, everyone can participate in the Club for Foster Families to share their problems and exchange experience with other families.
Project Goal: facilitate the placement of children who lost parental support in foster families in St. Petersburg and provide comprehensive support to families ensure the successful adaptation of the child.
• Attracting potential foster parents;
• Assessing and training foster parents;
• Facilitating family placement of children who lost parental support in St. Petersburg;
• Providing professional support and follow-up assistance to newly-formed foster families.
School for Foster Parents
• Comprehensive training program: psychological, social, legal, and medical aspects;
• Interactive format of sessions: excercises, role-plays, mini-lectures, discussions;
• 25 training hours (10 sessions).
Assistance for Foster Families
Social and Legal Assistance:
• Counseling and assistance in resolution of housing issues, official paperwork to register for allowances and benefits, selection of educational institutions for a child and other social issues;
• Legal advice.
• Psychological counseling on fostering issues;
• Assistance in resolution of psychological problems;
• Psychological support for foster parents.
• Couseling by medical specialists;
• Referrals for lab and functional tests.
Club for Foster Families
• Peer support;
• Exchange of personal experience;
• New knowledge and skills.
Project Results in 2011:
• 68 children received project services;
• 4 Schools for Foster Parents held, with 43 people trained;
• this resulted in 25 family placements of children, including 18 long-term and 7 short-term placements.