Project #11926

Foster Family Support for 50 Children in Russia

by St.Petersburg-based non-governmental organization 'Doctors to Children'

Dear friends,

After several months we are happy again to share the MAMA+ Project achievements as well as the latest news with you.

Last time, we told you a story of a mother and her daughter (Ksenia and Dasha) who had to move to St. Petersburg. It is great that everything is getting better step by step in this small family, and we are grateful to you for supporting the MAMA+ project. 
Ksenia and Daria appreciate the project staff members for their assistance in the difficult life situation. MAMA+ staff assisted the woman in renting housing and contacting a partner government social services center locally, where she was supported in paperwork for having her child enrolled in a kindergarten. Unfortunately, placing an HIV-positive child in an ordinary kindergarten is still a problem. DTC helped Ksenia register for children’s allowances and receive a confirmation of her child’s disability status in St. Petersburg. The woman and her daughter visited the MAMA+ Center: Ksenia was in care of the project psychologist. In early October, Dasha began to attend a government kindergarten, and her mother was able to find employment. We are glad to know that, and we are wishing Dasha good health.

We are happy when we are able to support a family in a difficult life situation, change public attitudes related to HIV-positive children and adults, and obtain justice.

Today we are going to tell you a story about Eugenia and her son Kirill who are currently on active assistance of the MAMA+ project.

Eugenia, 36 years old, and Kirill, 8 months old.

In February 2015, a long-awaited child Kirill was born in the family of Eugenia and Maksim. Both parents have history of using drugs and being in conflict with the law. However, by the moment of Kirill’s birth they had been in remission for over five years (both parents are HIV-positive). Maksim was employed, and the family was renting a room in a communal apartment. The parents prepared everything for the baby: furniture, clothes, and toys. During her pregnancy, Eugenia visited the AIDS Center where she was told about the MAMA+ Center, and was taking the therapy.

When their baby was 4 months old, Maksim was made redundant at work, and the financial status of the family deteriorated. The family faced the lack of funds to buy baby formula for Kirill. Eugenia contacted MAMA+ staff for assistance. The project began to support the mother and her child, providing them with assistance in purchasing baby formula and diapers. At home visits, MAMA+ staff trained the woman on child care and development issues. They made the woman realize the importance of taking care of her child’s health status, and arranged a consultation with a neurologist for the boy. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and additional examinations and tests for Kirill. The boy’s mother complied all recommendations given by doctors. At five months, the boy experienced the first seizure (severe spasms)… he was placed in a hospital where he was diagnosed West syndrome (epilepsy at early age). Kirill spent almost a month in the hospital, and the doctors took pains to stop the seizures, using superpotent medication. Nobody knows what is in store for the baby, and the doctors refrain from making any prognosis. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: the boy should be under continuous medical monitoring and take a course of expensive medicaments. The project staff continue to provide the family with psychosocial support, assisting them at every stage of resolving the problem.

Now the boy needs a qualified epileptologist, who would assist him over the continuous period of treatment. The treatment and diagnostics are very costly. One of the required medicaments costs over 8 thousand roubles ($130).

Together with Eugenia, we hope for the best.

MAMA+ staff will continue to support the woman and her child. And we kindly ask you to support the MAMA+ Project.

Dear Friends,

We are happy to update you on the progress of Doctors to Children’s Foster Family Project. 

The summer passed… That was the time when the majority of our clients left for sanatoriums, children’s recreation camps, and dachas, to gain strength before the new academic year. The project activities did not stop in the summertime.  We continued to provide psychosocial services to foster families; the project staff provided consultations to potential foster parents willing to take children to their families. Over the summer months, we were receiving phone calls and questionnaires from potential parents, interviewed and recruited potential trainees for the autumn School for Foster Parents. In September, at long last, the regular SFP training cycle took place. The School was attended by 12 persons, and we hope that the majority of them will take children from institutions.

On September 20, 2015, DTC hosted a meeting of the Club of Foster Families.

The meeting was attended by Vera, a wonderful young artist. Vera conducted a workshop for the children and parents: the guests were engaged in an unusual applique work – they were offered to make a paper cat using old newspapers and magazines. Despite fulfilling one and the same task, the children made completely different paper cats. Each artist brought their specific character and mood to the craftwork: some cats looked joyful; some looked mysterious. The meeting culminated in tea and table games.
The Club of Foster Families is an important component of work with families. At the club meetings, mothers and fathers can share their successes and challenges with one another and with the project staff, while their children can play and talk to their counterparts.

We are grateful to everybody for supporting our activities. We are sure that children should grow in families!

Club for Foster Families
Club for Foster Families

Dear Friends,

We would like to share a story of Svetlana, a foster mother. Staff members of DTC’s Foster Family Project first met with her in 2013, and are currently supporting her family.

In spring 2013, Svetlana who had her own children (a 19-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter) completed the School for Foster Parents. In June 2013, she fostered two boys Seryozha and Vanya (both born in 2006). They are not brothers, though almost since their birth they had been together in one group of a babies’ home and then in an orphanage. In a short while, the boys adapted to the new family. Their foster mother accepted them as if they were her own children: she had never seen difference between her own and foster children.

Starting from that moment, the family was taken under active assistance by Doctors to Children’s Foster Family Project. As soon as the boys went to school, their teacher began to complain about their behavior and school performance. DTC’s psychologist, project social worker and neurologist provided the family with consultations. With the developmental delais diagnosed, the boys were recommended to transfer to a special school. But their foster mother refused to change anything, because she could not bring the boys to a ne school on a regular basis. The situation was complicated by the fact that the family was living in Leningrad region, in a town remote from their school. All year of 2014, the project staff continued to provide the family with active assistance, including psychological support and consultations of different specialists, as well as humanitarian aid. The boys’ poor behavior and school performance was still an issue up to their second grade. The woman was worried by that, she totally disagree with the teacher’s opinion. With the project support, Svetlana had numerous meetings with the psychologist; her children were examined by the children’s neurologist and psychiatrist, and were recommended to attend a school with less intensive study load. Due to all these activities, the project staff were able to persuade the foster mother to change her decision.  

Before the woman took her final decision, DTC staff offered her to visit the special school, meet with the teachers, and receive detailed information regarding the organization of the study process. After visiting the special school and meetings with the teacher, the woman confided she regretted having refused to bring her boys there in the previous year.

The project staff members continue to work with the family. In the nearest future, they are planning to organize consultations and sessions for the boys to adjust their emotional sphere, as well as to arrange a repeated neurologist’s consultation for them.

We hope that her wish to resolve the situation in the best interests of her children, along with her cooperation with the project staff, will help Svetlana overcome difficulties, because she has been raising her children without anyone’s assistance.

During the period from May 26 through June 30, 2015, the Foster Family project staff conducted a School for Foster Parents training cycle. This time a total of 9 trainees successfully graduated the School. We hope that these graduates are future foster parents.

Club for Foster Families

On May 16, the project staff facilitated the Club session devoted to the International Day of Families. At this event, DTC clients were joined by representatives of the St. Petersburg Women’s Union. The children and their parents were gifted a wonderful book on the Famous St. Petersburg Dynasties. They were told about famous people of the city, family values and traditions, and difficult times the St. Petersburg families faced during the Great Patriotic War. On their turn, the children prepared a performance for their children and guests: they recited poems, sang songs, and shared their achievements at school. Following the traditional tea party and photo session, each family was given DTC’s presents.

Club for Foster Families
Club for Foster Families
Club for Foster Families
Club for Foster Families

Dear Friends,

We are happy to share our latest news with you: Doctors to Children has got a new home.
DTC moved to a new office located at the following address: 89A Fontanka embankment, Unit 20-N.
For years, we have been dreaming of establishing a child care center which would allow provision of services to survivors of child abuse, HIV-positive women and children, as well as clients of the Foster Family project.
In 2014, the St. Petersburg City Administration provided DTC with a facility for establishing the children’s center. In March 2015, the long-awaited move happened.
This move would be impossible without persistence and patience of DTC staff, support and participation of partners and fellow-thinkers. DTC staff members are extending their gratitude to all who cares for the lives of children.
DTC’s doors are always open for those who need support!
DTC’s new address is 89A Fontanka embankment, Unit 20-N, St. Petersburg, 190031, Russia.

Club for Foster Families Meeting at Radisson

On February 25, 2015, Radisson Royal Hotel (hotel administration provided an opportunity to hold the meeting in one of its halls) hosted a Club for Foster Families meeting devoted to the Fatherland Defender’s Day. Foster Family Project staff prepared games, contests and quizzes for children and their parents. The children were competing in origami, making paper planes, which they launched in the air. During the holiday, the children and their parents were singing war songs, dancing, and trying uniform. At the end of the meeting the guests had aromatic samovar tea with sweets, and participated in a photo session.

On March 20, another session of the Club for Foster Families took part in DTC’s new office. This time the children came with a prepared concert: they were playing the violin, the chromatic accordion, showing an acrobatic performance. The parents and project staff were viewers of this wonderful concert. Such informal meetings are important both for families who have fostering experience and those who had recently fostered children. They provide the project staff with an opportunity to observe child-parent interactions, which helps in further work with the families. At the end of the event the parents and children were given DTC presents.
During the period from January through March, Foster Family staff provided consultations to 65 candidates for foster parents.

A total of 44 children and 30 foster parents were provided with psychosocial and medical assistance by the project staff.

During the period from October through December 2014, DTC Foster Family Project staff provided consultations to 72 potential foster parents; 46 foster families benefited from project comprehensive psychosocial services; four children who lost parental support were placed in families trained at the School for Foster Parents.

On November 20, the project staff organized a meeting of the Club of Foster Families devoted to the International Mother’s Day. As part of the meeting, volunteers of the Amway Company engaged children and parents in a wonderful quiz session: the participants were invited to recall poems, songs, films about mothers, and fulfill creative assignments. Besides, the volunteers conducted workshops for children on creating wristlets, hairpins and postcards for their mothers. All the meeting participants received wonderful gifts from the Amway Company and Doctors to Children.

The next meting of the Club of Foster Families took place on December 21 at the Radisson Royal Hotel. That time the club meeting was turned to the New Year celebration. With the support of the hotel, DTC organized a holiday for 35 children and 28 parents who were under the project supervision. This is the second time that the hotel provided the venue for the New Year holiday. Each child was given an individual present from Father Frost. The holiday culminated in tea, sweet buffet and a large cake topped with a firework.

 Anna, 26, and her foster daughter Olya, 6, participated in the above two meetings of the Club. In spring 2014, Anna completed a course of DTC’s School for Foster Parents. In June 2014, she took Olga to her family. In October 2014, the woman contacted the project staff with a request for assistance. Olya is suffering from infantile cerebral paralysis. Her condition is exacerbated by psychological issues, including fears, aggressive behavior, and hyperactivity. Anna is raising the girl on her own and is in need of support from at least one more adult (maybe a volunteer), who could substitute her (for several hours a week) and become a friend of their family. The project staff arranged a medical case conference with participation of a pediatrician and a neurologist who provided Anna with relevant recommendations. After a number of medical examinations prescribed to the girl, the project staff will initiate another case conference to monitor Olga’s health status. The family was also provided with psychological support, social worker’s consultations, as well as material assistance.

To date, due to the project support, the child is no more facing difficulties in setting contact with other children. Olya is no more bothered by fears and nightmares. The project staff members were able to find a volunteer to stay with Olya once or twice a week, thus saving more spare time for the foster mother. Olya began to attend sessions at the children’s dancing school “Get Over”. This school is attended by different children, including children with special needs. The family continued to receive the project assistance.

 We are grateful to everyone supporting the Foster Family Project in St. Petersburg and helping us make children happy!

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Project Leader:
Elena Karaseva
St. Petersburg, Russia