Some Ex-Soviet States Move Toward Inclusion
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 26, 2005
CLUJ, ROMANIA--As Inclusion Daily Express reported earlier this month, a study released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) showed that the number of children segregated in institutions in many nations within the former Soviet Union has stayed essentially the same since 1990.
Even though many children have either died or moved on to adult institutions, an estimated 317,000 children -- most with disabilities -- continue to be neglected and housed away from the community. Many Eastern European countries still follow the old Soviet policy of "defectology", which called for segregating people with disabilities.
Most families still believe it is the government's responsibility to care for their children. In fact, Russia and Georgia are building new institutions to handle a growing demand.
According to the Associated Press, one country that appears to be making improvements is Romania, which in the past few years has closed dozens of institutions, thereby reducing the number of children in institutions from 6,919 to just 902. At the same time, the government has implemented a new policy of offering a salary and benefits to parents who choose to stay at home to care for a child with a disability. This has helped families accept the idea of being primary caregivers for their own children or foster parents for other children.
"No matter how good the conditions are in an institution, it's still an institution . . . and an institution should always be a last resort," said Monica Filip, who oversees government-funded centers for children in the Romanian city of Cluj.
"We are trying to destroy the myth that the government -- not the family -- is responsible for taking care of the children," she explained. "Unfortunately, that mentality hasn't changed much."
"Former Soviet bloc struggles with disabled" (Associated Press via Salt Lake Tribune)
Report: "Children and Disability in Transition in CEE/CIS and Baltic States" (UN Children's Fund)