Reforming Child Institutional Care in the Post-Soviet Bloc: The Potential Role of Family-Based Empowerment Strategies

Leyla Ismayiloya, Fred Ssewamala, Aytakin Huseynli - Children and Youth Services Review

Post-Soviet countries face the obstacle of having one of the highest number of children in institutional care worldwide, according to this article from the Children and Youth Services Review. Poverty is one main underlying reason behind this issue. Through a desk review of peer reviewed journal and “grey” literature published in English and Russian languages, this paper provides a review of current deinstitutionalization efforts in the region, identifies potential challenges, describes the need for economic empowerment interventions, and outlines directions for future research.

The article highlights that, while family reunification is included among the key strategies for reforming the institutional care system in the region, the financial support provided to low-income families within the deinstitutionalization programs is below the minimal costs of living. According to the article, few interventions aimed at deinstitutionalization have explicitly focused on addressing family poverty. The review indicates that more research is needed to examine the added benefits of integrating family-level economic empowerment strategies into deinstitutionalization efforts that could lift biological parents out of poverty, help them reunite with their children and reduce the risk of future institutionalization.

The article concludes that integrated deinstitutionalization programs and interventions could be tailored to address the needs of children placed in alternative care, those aging out of care, as well as those at risk of leaving home. In addition, the researchers emphasized that the agenda for countries in transition should include developing feasible, culturally appropriate, and efficacious deinstitutionalization interventions that incorporate asset-based economic empowerment strategies.