Parents who grew up in Russian orphanages often have great difficulty bonding with their children and looking after them practically. They are also wary of the authorities and find it difficult to ask for help. This puts their children at risk of neglect or abandonment. We have many years' experience of motivating and equipping orphanage-leavers to improve their own lives and the lives of their children. We can help them become the loving parents they never had themselves.
A recent report from the World Bank noted that state social work services in Russia were not strong enough to properly "identify, prevent, and case-manage child neglect, abuse and family disfunction." This means that parents who have themselves been failed by their own families and by the orphanages they grew up in do not get the help they need to care for their own children. With no positive experience of family life, orphanage-leavers urgently need support or their children may be at risk.
We provide intensive individual support through home visits to 5 families with children at immediate risk. 30 more families are able to access individual and group counselling, play therapy, and creative activies. These successfully help parents who grew up in orphanages to address their own trauma, bond with their children, learn how to ask for help, and respond to the emotional and practical needs of their children. Our more experienced mothers then become mentors to support their peers.
The immediate impact is that children are taken off the at-risk register and birth families are kept together. Children from 30 families will be at greatly reduced risk of abuse, and their health, development and educational chances will be boosted by their improved relationships. The parents are also likely to persuade their friends to seek parenting support. We use our experience to inform our training programme for social workers, helping raise standards of care across our city.
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