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Monitoring of Donetsk region: the level of danger for children is extremely high

Within the framework of the project implemented by the Ukrainian Child Rights Network together with the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, with the support of the UNICEF Ukraine, a monitoring visit was carried out on February 14 and 15. Donetsk region.

Simultaneously, two monitoring groups worked, which inspected the Mykolayivka special boarding school №7 of the Donetsk regional council, the municipal health care institution Kramatorsk orphanage “Antoshka”, municipal medical institution “Children’s Territorial Medical Association” (Kramatorsk), family-type orphanage (Kostiantynivka), Kostiantynivka City Service for Children, Kostiantynivka City Center for Social Services for Families, Children and Youth.

Representatives of the monitoring group had almost no comments on the conditions of detention and upbringing of children in boarding schools in Donetsk region.

However, the monitors were surprised by the quantitative indicators of children in respect of whom vouchers to boarding schools have been issued in recent years.

Let’s analyze the official statistics together a bit, especially since it is directly related to the implementation of deinstitutionalization reform in the region.

Thus, 135 children were admitted to the Antoshka orphanage in 2017, and in 2018 – almost half less, 77 children (almost 50% of them – temporarily, according to parents request). In 2016, 87 vouchers were issued to boarding schools (orphanages and boarding schools), 72 in 2017, and only 17 in 2018 (5 times less than in 2016). At the same time, after receiving information about the arrival of the monitoring group, in 2019 the Children’s Service of the Donetsk Regional State Administration quickly issued 14 vouchers (82% of the total number of vouchers for the whole of 2018!).

Today, there are no Small Group Homes, Day Care Centers, or Family and Child Support Centers in the region.

That is, there is no one to work with families, it is impossible to provide social services in the amount needed by communities. In the local services for children, as well as in the Centers for social services for families, children and youth, there is a considerable staff “hunger”, especially since social work specialists did not return after the transfer to the local budget and due to total reduction. to work in communities.

In such conditions (and we must not forget that we are analyzing the work in the war-torn region), there are many families who are not able to cope with the educational function on their own, and the above indicators indicate that during 2018 vouchers children in need of urgent protection were not given artificially. The ban by the regional service has led, among other things, to children being left alone with antisocial parents at risk of life and health. And sometimes, realizing the real danger to the child in a biological family, representatives of children’s services were forced to negotiate with doctors and artificially provide psychiatric diagnoses. All in order to be able to save the child’s life, arranging it in this way, bypassing the regional service, to a specialized boarding school. These approaches have nothing to do with the deinstitutionalization reform, because this reform is not about closing boarding schools at the cost of child misery, but about providing quality social services.

In addition, the monitoring visit showed that in recent years there has been no methodological work in the regional service with local children’s services. No methodological documentation was provided during the monitoring (letters of invitation to the event and sometimes registration letters are collected in the folders). The so-called seminars do not have topics, the order of their holding, in the vast majority, is not made, the materials of speeches are absent.

Nobody works with the newly created services in communities. The work plans state the general phrase “visit the community to provide methodological assistance.” It is impossible to trace whether this assistance was provided or not. There is no document confirming the methodical work with community in the regional service.

As a result, the papers are written, but all in common phrases or well-known slogans. No one monitors the dynamics of processes, does not analyze the situation in the region, does not provide advanced training for employees of regional and local services, and so on. Even the regional service does not respond at all to letters about the long-term (from 3 to 9 months) stay of 9 children in hospitals in the region, does not take any measures and does not provide answers.

Under such conditions, the level of danger for children in Donetsk region is currently extremely high and, if urgent measures are not taken to remedy the situation, can lead to fatal consequences.

Monitoring visits to 5 pilot regions have been completed. Over the next month, the materials will be summarized. Experts on the protection of children’s rights will provide recommendations to remedy the situation and, in particular, highlight issues that need to be amended.

The Public Network “Ukrainian Child Rights Network” expresses its sincere gratitude to the representatives of the Office of the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, specialists of the Department for Children’s Rights and Health of the Ministry of Social Policy for cooperation in developing monitoring methodology and monitoring visits.

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