Abandoned children: what the closed doors of institutions hide


The State is not capable of ensuring proper education; socialization and rehabilitation for children in institutions and therefore many of those leaving school orphanages cannot adapt in society and quite often end up in adult institutions.

According to Andriy Chernousov, Director of the Association of Independent Monitors, children in Ukraine can only be provided with social services in live-in institutions – children’s homes, and therefore if a child needs such services, there is no other alternative. For this reason there are different categories of children in such children’s homes: children considered mentally retarded; children with physical disabilities; children deprived of parental care. What is most interesting, the experts say, is that all these children receive an identical range of social services.

Even if they are placed in children’s homes, Andriy Chernousov says, when leaving it, they are not able to adapt and integrate in society.  He adds that such children have no further.

An example of this is seen in the case of Stas Demetr, a young Roma lad, with it illustrating the fate of tens of thousands of young people leaving children’s homes in Ukraine.

Stas spent 17 years in an institution for the mentally retarded, and when a commission arrived, it turned out that he had been placed there mistakenly and the mentally retarded status was removed. As a result, Stas has a certificate from the Dombrokivsky School Orphanage that he has finished 9 grades (counted as incomplete secondary education), yet can’t read or write.

“What kind of idiotic country do we live in where orphaned children are sent to orphanages, given artificial diagnoses of “mentally retarded”, and then in accordance with that diagnosis mistreated in a children’s home.  Nobody teaches him anything, yet in order to look good gives him a school-leaving certificate.”

- Natalya Kozyr, Project Coordinator of the Rozvytok [Development] Charity in Mukhacheve.

She points out that after these children’s homes, the kids leave at 18 with their certificates, and are officially adult, autonomous citizens. They are of working age and have to find themselves work and organize their lives.

“The State thus acknowledges its own incapacity: it has monopolized the right to education and bringing up children; socialization and rehabilitation of these children, however does not fulfil its duties and produces candidates for adults’ institutions”, Andriy Chernousov says.

For a fundamental change in the situation, he believes that standards for providing socal services in institutions need to be drawn up and strictly observed. Standardization of their work will result in various specializations being identified making it possible to address the needs of each children.

The press conference also pointed out that new opportunities for public monitoring of education, socialization and rehabilitation of children in institutions and ensuring a minimum standard of good treatment are provided by the national preventive mechanism [NPM] which began working at the end of last year. That is a system for monitoring unannounced visits to various types of places of confinement carried out by members of the community together with the Office of the Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner.

Chernousov says that the NPM will monitor the changes taking place in such institutions on a permanent basis.

According to the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research there are 55 children’s homes under the Ministry of Social Policy and 687 school orphanages under the Education Ministry. According to the Ministry for Social Policy there are 95.5 thousand orphans and children deprived of parental care in Ukraine, with 20 thousand in institutions. 

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