From Institutional Care to Family Support: Development of an Effective Early Intervention Network in the Nizhny Novgorod Region, Russian Federation

Dana E. Johnson, Svyatoslav V. Dovbnya, Tatiana U. Morozova, Melinda A. Richards and Julia G. Bogdanova

Despite efforts of the government to reform child protection, Russia continues to rely on institutional care due to the lack of support services for families in crisis, children with disabilities, and foster and adoptive parents.The project goal was to establish a replicable professional model that would direct the child welfare system in the Nizhny Novgorod Region away from institutional care and toward services for young children and their families that reduce the risk of institutionalization. The program was carried out over a 3-year period through a public–private partnership, which included the Ministries of Social Policy and Health of the Nizhny Novgorod Region, Firefly, and KPMG with partial funding by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Participation of professionals was excellent, attitudinal changes were extensive, and there were significant improvements in the understanding and utilization of early intervention concepts. The number of visits to program sites increased from essentially none to almost 1,000/month during the course of the project. Difficulties employing standardized child-based measures of success and developing ministry data-collection systems were encountered. Changes within the child welfare system in Russia are possible, but require a knowledgeable and adequately funded and supported program within regions receptive to change.

Infant Mental Health Journal Volume 35, Issue 2, March/April 2014, Pages 87–191