Implementation of deinstitutionalization of child care institutions in post-soviet countries: The case of Azerbaijan

Aytakin Huseynli - Child Abuse & Neglect


Institutional care has proven to be detrimental for child development. This study examined the status of the State Program on Deinstitutionalization and Alternative Care (SPDAC), a public policy aimed at transforming 55 institutions covering 14,500 children during 2006–2016 in Azerbaijan. The success of this public policy was crucial for the country's entire child welfare system. The study used a crosssectional, descriptive, exploratory, and qualitative method. Data were collected through in-depth, semistructured interviews and archival resources. Twenty key informants were selected through a purposive sampling strategy. They led projects or were heads of departments related to implementing the SPDAC at government agencies, national or international nongovernmental organizations, UNICEF, or as social workers in newly established alternative services. Interviews were analyzed in TAMSAnalyzer. Themes supporting possible explanations such as lack of political will, weak child protection systems, weak civil society, illequipped human resources, absence of alternative services, and low levels of knowledge of children's rights emerged in the analysis. The findings could contribute to research on child welfare reform and reflect hidden factors behind policies to guide practice in former Soviet Union states and countries rich in natural resources such oil, gas, and minerals. The primary finding of a lack of political will raises the question of how to create political will and how to motivate government officials to invest in the welfare of children.