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Participants of the press-conference
Most of them - are children of senior school age, who have few chances to be adopted or placed into family care. After leaving care the majority of them are usually referred to the so-called "orphan" vocational schools - schools that have adequate facilities, which can provide full state maintenance. While children study the state continue to support them financially, but when they become adults - funding stops.
Internats are not legally responsible for children after they leave care, other organizational structures operate inefficiently. Let down by the system and without family, care leavers are expected to cope with independence too early and with too little support.
Alarming statistic of Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports shows that after leaving care 20% of care-leavers from institutions in Ukraine are unable to find a job, or obtain a profession, 41% of care-leavers have no perspective in solving of housing problems, 28 % of care-leavers are engaged in criminal activities.
"Many young people experience poverty and joblessness after leaving care, because there was no-one to give them the help they needed, - admitted Volodymyr Kuz'minskyy Head of Board of "Partnership for Every Child" during official launch of the project.
"With the Soviet break-up, orphanages were left in a vacuum. The children from institutions are often underdeveloped intellectually and socially, and are left with little hope of advancement of private sector employment after they leave", - he explained.
"It is all too easy for them to fall prey to a circle of crime, drugs, prostitution and prison. The hopelessness faced by the graduates of children's institutions promises a vicious circle for the future of crime, drugs, alcohol, HIV and yet more orphans".
Rolf Widmer, Director of Swiss Foundation of the International Social Service noted that the main task of the project is to create opportunities for Ukrainian care-leavers to fulfil theirbasic human rights. He stressed that according to the ISS, the majority of women engaged in sex industry, are graduates of residential institutions, and this applies to several European countries, including Ukraine and Russia.
The proposed provision of timely help to develop life skills and employability for these children raises their chances to have successful lives.
Project includes different types of activities: training of personnel working with care leavers, development of alternative social services, working with communities involved.
Selecting Kyiv Oblast as a pilot region, this project will reach 800 orphans and children deprived of parental care, including care leavers from residential institutions; youth from foster families, family-based children's homes and children under guardianship during three years.
It aims explicitly to make a visible impact on a specific area of Kyiv region and to provide a gateway to more permanent support services at national level.
Project innovations include development of mentoring system and creation of living space for care leavers. Ordinary flats will be used as the living space to prepare care leavers for independent life. These facilities will be organized to address the needs of the young people, in areas that are close to a family, work, studies and community.
Mrs. Tolstoukhova, Deputy Minister of Family, Youth and Sports stressed that the issue of aftercare support is very important. "The opportunities and support that this programme will provide in Kyiv Oblast will make a real impact to care leavers and will become another step in the right direction for improving the life chances of children and young people in the care system," - the Deputy Minister Tolstoukhova concluded.
Project "Sure Start: care leavers integration programme (2010-2013)" will be implemented in Bila Tserkva, Pereyaslav-Khmel'nytskyy; Fastiv cities, Vyshgorod, Tarashchanskyy rayons of Kyiv Oblast by Partnership for Every Child and of Swiss Foundation of the International Social Service with the support of SDC -Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Republic and Canton of Geneva, Kyiv Oblast State Administration.
Anya, care leaver and Oksana - her mentor
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Ukrainian graduate orphans