May 17, 2021

Russia proposes ways to tackle the issue of adopted children's return to child care

Support of foster homes as a prevention tool against adopted children's returning back to child care was discussed on May 17 in the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. Narek Sirakanyan, President of Freedom International Group, founder of the “Growing up Together” charity foundation, took part in the round table.

The main topic of discussion was the problem of the reasons for the return of adolescent children from foster families back to orphanages. The required amendments to the legislation of the Russian Federation were also considered. The purpose of the discussion is to develop initiatives to change the situation and its consequences in the socio-economic sphere.
Among the participants of the discussion were representatives of government authorities, social protection organizations, socially oriented NGOs and opinion leaders.

The round table presented the results of a study conducted by the "Good Deeds Bureau" Charity Foundation in cooperation with the Center for Evidence-Based Social Design of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, on the reasons for the return of adolescent children from foster families back to child care. More than half of the respondents noted the need to organize and develop qualified support for such families.

Following the discussion, a set of proposals was adopted on the necessary measures at the federal, regional and local levels:

1. Developing a unified position and strategy in relation to cases of return, moving away from a contextual, narrow and sometimes neurotic position towards a productive and professional one through improving the regulatory framework regarding the transfer of children to families and supporting foster homes.
2. Revision of the approach to goal-setting and assessment of the quality of work on family placement, rejection of "unplanned campaigning", contradicting data and the transition to the selection of a family for a child, the introduction of special procedures for the placement of adolescents (guest format, long-term acquaintance, training programs for children), raising awareness of foster parents about the condition of the child and her or his family story.
3. Improving the work of schools for foster parents, improving the quality of training programs, including through the active involvement of experienced foster parents who have overcome the crisis and the risk of kid's return, providing a link between "teaching - accompanying", the transition from a lecture to a training format of work. Providing additional specialized modules (adolescence, disability, and others), meetings, “advanced training” after graduation and the adoption of a child into the family.
4. Increasing the competence of specialists in accompanying, education, guardianship and custodianship bodies, in particular, in the direction of work with crisis situations and markers of age, adolescence and the most difficult topics (theft, violence, sexualized behavior), as well as additional effort to improve the image of helping professions and accompaniment in the eyes of parents and the public. There is a need for additional training in the ethical aspects of helping activities, in particular, psychological counseling. Increasing the level of specialists' empathy for the true needs of adoptive parents. A professional discussion is required about the impact of the child-centered concept on helping practice in relation to foster families.
5. Development of the infrastructure for professional support of foster families, including in rural areas, an increase in the number and variety of helping services - both stationary and remote, as well as visiting. Implementation of rehabilitation programs for children and parents after return. Development and distribution of anonymous formats of assistance to foster parents. Creation of anonymous, highly confidential sources of help and support for foster parents and children.
6. Supporting self-help resources and the active use of the expertise of peers - foster parents and foster children themselves, reliance on available intra- and interfamily practices, description and distribution of community experience, holding festivals and schools of parenting experience.

The event was organized by the “Good Deeds Bureau” Foundation in cooperation with Narek Sirakanyan's “Growing Up Together” Charity Foundation.

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