SOCIETY
NGOs Present Needs Assessment of Alternative Child Care Services
03 May, 2012

On April 27, at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel, International NGO EveryChild and its partner organizations presented findings of the Needs Assessment of Alternative Child Care Services - an evaluation of foster care, Small Group Homes (SGHs) and Day Care Centers (DCCs).

 

Under the aegis of an ongoing Deinstitutionalization reform, these three services are provided by the State to children lacking parental care, through a number of local and international non-governmental organisations. The Needs Assessment was carried out within the framework of the

Advocacy for Participation to Protect Children’s Rights project funded by the European Union and implemented by EveryChild. It is the first assessment to evaluate all three types of alternative child care services.

The project’s implementing partner - Children of Georgia - conducted nationwide interviews and focus groups with 344 individuals: foster parents and foster care beneficiaries; SGH managers, caregivers and beneficiaries; and DCC managers, teachers, beneficiaries and their biological parents. The Needs Assessment showed that the service providers and users are in general satisfied with provided services and strongly support their existence in the country. However, they noted a range of needs which have to be met to ensure that the diversity and quality of services provided to children is maintained and further improved.

Andro Dadiani, Country Director of EveryChild mentioned that: “The main message of ours today is that the communication between the service providers and receivers is very important. The some is true of participation of both groups in the process. You won’t hear anything new, as everyone is aware of the needs existing in the alternative Child Care Services. But the novelty is the collection of these needs.“

Maya Mateshvili, Project manager of EveryChild stated: “The project funded by the European Union aims at supporting the organizations providing alternative child care services to get more actively involved in the elaboration of child care policy. Several activities have been implemented within the scope of the project. First of all, memorandum of cooperation was signed that united 11 local and non-governmental organizations. The aim was to encourage the satisfaction of revealed needs in order to improve the services provided to children.“

Tea Kiria from Georgian Foster Care  Organisation stated:”Notwithstanding the fact that social workers work devotedly with children, our research has shown that they are not so very attentive while making documentations. There is also a lack of timely responds to the needs. Most of the children are satisfied by the foster parents and say that all their needs, including the right for education are very well satisfied. However, there are some respondents who say that they are dissatisfied. There are some exceptions when parents are scolding and spanking foster children. Therefore, the need for training foster parents was stressed.”

Ana Chachkhunashvili, from Foundation Breath-Georgia noted: “We revealed that the people in charge of the Small Group Homes do not receive adequate salary. They work very hard and therefore, their labor needs appropriate appreciation. They are like volunteers, moreover, benevolent people.  8 managers and 28 caregivers of 12 SGHs participated in the assessment.” She pointed out the need for psychological consultation at SGH group and individual services.

Tamar Sharashidze, from Caritas Georgia, emphasized on the Day Care Centres: “There are DCCs for the children with disabilities as well as for those deprived of parental care. Therefore, our research covers both group cate gories. We have learnt that the number of DCCs is far from being enough. However, services provided in them are almost always good and satisfying. The transportation of disabled children is one of the identified problems.” She also noted that existing voucher funding is not enough to cover a range of needs. Caritas Georgia recommends that it is necessary to increase the number of  DCCs as well as the limit of served beneficiaries. “There are only 145 children in Tbilisi. Another recommendation is to open inclusive DCCs for children with disabilities, and also increase funding to improve quality of service,” Ms. Sharashidze added.

Teona Mamukishvili, from Association Young Partners, addressed the audience at the beginning of her speech: “Just forget about your achievements and imagine for one minute that you are 18-year-old youth and have to leave the Small Group Home or foster family, and you have no profession, what would you feel?” Everyone in the audience agreed that this is unpleasant. “I agree with you,” Ms. Mamukishvili said. “I want to tell you that therefore, we think it’s of utmost importance to insure the preparation for independent living – emotional, financial etc. For this purpose, the access to educational, developmental, entertainment and cultural activities are necessary. It’s very significant too to teach them to manage their budget.”

Out of 70 recommendations 1 in the Assessment has already been fully implemented, while 20 are currently in the process of being implemented with a varying degree of progress. Yet, there are still 49 recommendations that require attention.

Active involvement of foster care, SGH and DCC service providers and users (both children and their biological parents) in effective planning of the State action plans for alternative child care will ensure that the intended budget more accurately reflects the actual needs of children using these services. Institutionalising their participation will ensure transparency of the planning process and serve as an effective mechanism for receiving regular feedback through two-way communication so that the children’s rights are duly met.

Project partners are: Children of Georgia, Georgian Foster Care Organisation, Caritas Georgia, Foundation Breath – Georgia, SOS Children’s Villages Georgia, Child and Environment, Society Biliki, First Step Georgia, Public Health and Medicine Development Fund (PHMDF) and the Young Pedagogues’ Union.

Deinstitutionalization reform has been implemented in Georgia since 1999 with the purpose of closing down large-scale Soviet-type children’s institutions (so called “orphanages”). At the start of the reform 5500 children were living in institutions and boarding schools. Those children have been either reintegrated into their biological families, placed in foster care, or in SGHs. Today only 387 of them still remain in 9 state-run institutions for both healthy and disabled children. The reform is to be completed by the end 2012.

Between now and August, the project partners plan to conduct individual and group meetings with policy-makers, donors, central and local governments and to collaborate with mass media in order to raise the awareness about identified needs and advocate for implementation of developed recommendations. Otar Toidze, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee of Health and Social Issues also participated in the discussion held at the end of the event: “You, all the organizations are doing a very important job. Your proposals need to be met by us together with you. Therefore, I suggest a meeting for further and more in-depth discussions in the Parliament.“

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