Coordinating Activities to Handle Problems of Children without Parental Care

13 Apr, 2011

On March 30, the Open Society Georgia Foundation and Sate Care Agency organized jointly a one-day meeting to consider the problems related to children deprived of parental care, including infants, young adults and street children, and develop an adequate strategy to handle the problems.  The meeting brought together representatives of organizations working on children welfare reforms and public servants.

Participants made presentations about conditions in infant care homes in Georgia, in particular, the increasing number of children, current forms of care and alternative forms, which are being developed now.   The participants also outlined the so-called preventive measures, which will help avoid infant abandonment if they are introduced.

The working group came to the conclusion that the question needs in-depth consideration and agreed that field specialists will further hold such meetings to come up with recommendations and the ways of their application in practice.  The organizations have long cooperated on infant related issues and they are unanimous on vital questions.

The approach to palliative care is different.  The meeting participants were informed on available forms of palliative care in Georgia; the problem as to where the abandoned infants that are in need of palliative care should be taken has not been resolved yet.  This issue is related to the second priority of the OSGF, the development of pediatric palliative care in the country.  It was decided to set up a working group made up of all parties working on palliative care issues.  The group will come up with the conception.  On the basis of the latter the concerned parties will discuss the creation of a palliative care unit for the children.

Another topic discussed during the meeting was street children and problems of the Tbilisi Children Crisis Center.  Maia Mgeliashvili, the newly appointed director of the center, reviewed existing problems and presented the future plan.  To ensure the efficient operation of the center, the latter will be supported by a working group, which is already developing a strategy on street children.  The operation of the center depends on the existence of the intermediary service.  The key objective of the center is not to be considered as a typical children’s home; it should maintain the format to meet complex needs of its dwellers.  It was also noted that day care services should be developed to make 24 -hour services provided for street children in the Crisis Center more efficient.

A representative of the SoS Children’s Village shared with the audience her experience in preparing children and young adults deprived of parental care for independent life.  SoS Children’s Village has several years’ experience of guiding children towards future life.  This is a gradual process.  They use approved methods to coach the children of different age groups towards independence and responsibility until they become fully independent at the age of 24.  It was decided during the meeting that the SoS Children’s Village will closely cooperate with the State Care Agency and help it introduce its methods into public care institutions.  It will also assist the State Care Agency in developing a new residential place for semi-independent living.

To summarize, the meeting was just the first step made towards the resolution of vital issues.  The group came to the agreement that each issue will be considered by working groups (meetings will be planned within 10 days), which will meet on a regular basis.