The war in Ukraine has aggravated the already difficult situation with orphans and disadvantaged children residing in Ukrainian orphanages and graduating from them. 106,000 children were in orphanages in Ukraine by January 1, 2022. The author of this assessment has visited most of the existing institutions in various regions of Ukraine. While the lifestyle and conditions differ somewhat from one institution to another, mostly depending on the managerial capabilities of the institution leadership, the general pattern of life institutionalized children “enjoy” and their economic hardships allow us to say their life is miserable. With the current war and previous social and economicproblems of Ukrainian society, the situation in children in institutions has aggravated markedly. Most children experts in Ukraine agree that any form of professional family / foster care is significantly better for orphans and other at-risk children residing in orphanages today.
Advantages of family upbringing of social and biological orphans were understood by progressive thinkers even during the Soviet times of Ukraine. After the commencement of Michail Gorbachev’s perestroika in 1985, the Soviet government issued a Temporary Decree on Family Children Homes, authored by Albert Lehanov,
who managed to push adoption of this decree in December 1988 and Ukraine, being part of the Soviet Union at the time was covered by this law. By the end of 1989 there were about 90 Family Children Homes in the entire USSR and Mr. Lehanov even managed to gather all 26 FTH parents for a conference in 1989. Several existing FTHs who raised hundreds of children in the past 30 years were the delegates to that conference. Even though after the break up of USSR the FTH idea became dormant on the national levels in Ukraine for 15 years – on local level some families managed to push the adoption City Council decrees allowing to continue to support FTHs thenand receive some sort of support (varied during the years) from their respective local governments. 14,506 orphans were raised in the foster care system in Ukraine per February 2022 (today’s number is not known). Compared with 106,000 children in orphanages one may conclude the foster care in Ukraine is under developed. Most FTHs have been asking the local governments for land and at least some financial support to build houses outside of the city, however, until now this request remained unanswered. Similarly, none of the regions surveyed by the author of this assessment have shown availability of funds to buy new houses for FTHs, making housing the major roadblock on the way of FTH development in Ukraine, much more difficult to overcome than financial support for children in FTH. Some regional authorities said that if the housing issue for FTHs would be resolved, they are committed to identify and reserve funds to financially support the potential FTHs in the future. Thus, the majority of prospective professional parents must wait until the Ukrainian government amends the situation on the national scale and helps identify resources for FTH housing. A number of FFs and FTHs in Ukraine are supported by religious communities, where housing issues are resolved by the sponsor.
Our program continues to monitor status with orphans and other at-risk children in Ukraine and offers a mechanism of relief and support for today’s Ukrainian
children in need through the individual child sponsorship program to give potential sponsors an opportunity to provide support, or just a present for upcoming Christmas. Please visit: https://helpchildreninukraine.org