Publicly available information on the extent of institutional care does not offer a full understanding of the current situation and, therefore, complicates the process of reforming the child protection system in Ukraine. Quantitative and qualitative information on children and young people resident in institutions, the causes of their placement in institutions, as well as opportunities for their return to families remains unexplored because of the closed nature of the institutional system and weaknesses in state statistics. The data collected by the government (the State Statistics Service) and sectoral data, collected by ministries, vary significantly. Usually, the information on residential facilities is simply inaccessible; no relevant data is available on websites or in reports of government bodies administering each type of institution. Additionally, the real reasons for the placement of children in such facilities and the consequences of institutionalisation are not monitored.
To obtain complete data on the child protection system and related problems, Hope and Homes for Children has conducted during 2015-2016 a comprehensive study of the child protection system in Ukraine. To ensure the integrity of the data, the structure of the study included components focused on different levels of the child protection system in Ukraine (national, regional and rayon), and combined both quantitative and qualitative approaches and methods. The system of institutional care was the main focus of the study.
The study found that the system of institutional care in Ukraine is not a favourable environment for the development and socialisation of children and the closed nature of the system sanctions abuse and violence against them. Moreover, residential facilities fail to provide adequate conditions to meet even the most basic needs of children let alone offer the support, protection and care necessary for them to reach their full potential.
Due to the lack of uniform and clear procedures for referring children to institutions, the decisions on institutional placements are taken inconsistently and without considering a child’s individual needs. Despite having parents who are not deprived of parental rights, most children stay in residential facilities for extended periods of time, and often until reaching full age.