It’s too early to spill the beans, but MIR is about to undergo some big changes, and I am excited about the potential to take the ministry to another level of effectiveness and impact in the city. Meanwhile, I’ll put out some teasers to seed vision for what is needed as we move forward with these changes.
In January, 2007 the Russian government enacted a law that is significantly impacting orphans. It calls for overhauling the country’s child welfare system by shifting from an orphanage system to a foster care/adoption system. Ideally, this is a positive step because clearly it is better for orphans to be in families than in institutions. However, there are some key roadblocks:
1) The timing: the government plans on closing down 70% of orphanages in the next 3 years. There are over 800,000 orphans in institutions in Russia. It is not feasible to successfully place that number of children into families in such a short timeframe.
2) The lack of screening: The Russian government is doing very little to screen potential foster / adoptive families, and is instead offering a lump sum of money up front to anyone who will take in a child.
3) The lack of training: The Russian government is providing very little in the way of foster parent or pre-adoption training to interested families.
Additionally, as orphanages are being closed, international adoptions from Russia have virtually come to a halt. The combination of these two events puts Russian orphans in a desperate situation. It is critical that stable Russian families become equipped to adopt and foster orphans.