What is the best place for a child to grow up in?
Two and a half year old Artur* and his little brother Zhenia* have been placed in emergency fostering due to potential threat to their lives. Found by the Services for Children, the boys were severely neglected with visible signs of developmental delays and malnutrition. For 30 months old Artur, everything around was described with a single word ‘allo’, while 18 months old Zhenia was not able to even crawl because of exhaustion and weakness. In a weeks’ time their foster parents write in a diary: “Artur started saying first words: “please”, “open the door”, “let’s eat”. He turns into a real chatterbox, learning some new words every day... When I brought him some new clothes from the shop and he tried them on, I commented how nice he looks in it. From then on, I couldn’t stop Artur, he kept asking “Nice?”, pointing at various things. The boy is very affectionate, he easily responds to love and care…” As for little Zhenia, the first thing was to resume his eating skills – due to starvation he lost his chewing reflex – and to return his physical stamina to continue developing gross and motor skills. After a month of their stay in foster care the care-givers noted a record progress: “It has become Zhenia’s duty to remind everyone that it’s meal time. He crawls into a kitchen chair and starts banging with his feeding plate on a table as if to say “Time to eat, Mommy”.
For children like Artur and Zhenia, with your support and generous donations, we run vital emergency fostering services – unprecedented and pioneering care solution in Ukraine. They are a proof that a safe and caring family environment is the best place for a child, essential for their growth and development. Unfortunately, for many Ukrainian children they are still not available since there is simply no concept of short-term foster care. Each month within Kyiv city alone there are 10 to 12 children in an emergency situation at risk of being deprived of parental care and placed in residential care. Practice shows that 9 out of 10 children tend to remain in residential care for significantly longer than the initially negotiated 6 months’ period. Lack of competence causes many instances where the family crisis remains professionally unresolved.
In January 2013, three siblings – 6 year old Nastia*, 3 year old Ivanko* and 2 year old Olenka* were placed in the short-term foster care to protect them from risks to their health and lives. Their mother, uncle and grandmother were having severe alcohol dependence; children were exposed to violence and neglect. “Their conditions were petrifying, - says Larysa, an emergency foster carer of the children. Olenka could only eat biscuits and could sit on the chair for hours without moving. Ivanko did not talk and couldn’t recognise any attachment to his sisters. While Nastia was threating to run away and refused to listen at the beginning.” Three months onwards: “Olenka is very curious and sociable, she likes role playing with her dolls and eating grown up meals: soups, meatballs and pasta. Ivanko is attached to his foster “Daddy”, who jokingly calls him “my tail”. He enjoys going to the kindergarten with his little sister.” In Nastia’s case, because of traumatic experience of domestic violence she was receiving professional counselling which enabled her better recovery. In April 2013, children found the new family who adopted the siblings due to their biological mother’s inability and unwillingness to take care of children.
Currently, we are working on recruiting new foster families and training professionals to support more kids like Nastia, Ivan, Olenka, Artur and Zhenia. We really appreciate your help with this project which we recently started on GlobalGiving. Only $10 pay for 1 hour of counselling to help a child cope with the traumatic experience. Just over $200 will pay for an emergency foster care to keep 1 vulnerable child safe for a month. Your donations will not only help us to provide crisis care to children in need, they will also send a powerful message of your belief that loving homes and caring families are the best place for children.
We are so grateful!
* All names of the children have been changed to protect confidentiality. The children pictured are not the subject of the case study stories.