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Monitoring in Zhytomyr Region: Children Abandoned in Novohrad-Volynskyi Boarding School in Improper Conditions

The beginning of autumn was marked by the first monitoring visit. Within the framework of the project “Strengthening the Capacity of NGOs to Monitor the Observance of Children’s Rights in Ukraine – Phase II” from September 4 to 6, experts of the “Ukrainian Child Rights Network” together with representatives of the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund “UNICEF” Ukraine, monitoring visits were made to institutions of Zhytomyr region.

Representatives of the monitoring group had a very pleasant impression after the inspection of the Zhytomyr Regional Service for Children and the Novohrad-Volynskyi Center for Social Services for Families, Children and Youth.

Experts saw a low level of work in the protection of children’s rights in the Zhytomyr Regional and Korosten City Centers for Social Services for Families, Children and Youth, and the Children’s Service of the Novohrad-Volynskyi District State Administration. There is no systematic work on the protection of child rights, only recorded but not analyzed statistics, no vision and experience of further action with families in difficult life circumstances, no desire to learn and improve the professional level of managers and professionals.

The work is carried out formally, often limited to periodic preventive talks with parents and the issuance of humanitarian aid. At the same time, children stay in institutions for a long time, do not have a legally defined status and do not know parental care and experience of upbringing in the family. In fact, there are a large number of children in the region who are hidden social orphans.

A clear confirmation of such conclusions is the situation with 92 children who are brought up in Novograd – Volyn boarding school of I-II degrees. They all have parents, but have lived in a boarding school for many years, and only a third of them are sometimes at home. Others have been deprived of this opportunity for years. Social workers hardly work with such families. Only a few children during the focus group said that once a year, in the summer, during the holidays when the child is at home, specialized specialists come to their parents and conduct a survey of living conditions in the family. After the parents send the child back to the boarding school, no one visits them again.

The boarding school also does not have proper conditions for raising children: access to children’s bedrooms is closed until the evening, the toilets have a stench, there is no toilet paper, the front door in some toilets cannot even be covered.

Underwear, clothes, hygiene products, other things that a child in a normal family can freely use at any time – are locked.

All these things are managed only by educators. It is they who, at their own discretion, determine the amount that a child needs.

The monitors were also surprised that the children actually use the issued underwear in turn, because after washing (by the way, they give out ironed clothes and semi-dry clothes, saying that everything in the rooms dries up, because it is warm now) it gets to another child.

The institution has many rooms that are equipped, but kept closed and children are not actually allowed there. After school, children can play outside if the weather is good, and all the time they spend in classrooms where they can watch TV. There is no other alternative.

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