Ukraine Takes Steps to Improve Wellbeing of Orphaned Graduates

08/12/2011 - Ukraine's Premier has called on one government ministry to create programmes that cater to the wellbeing of orphaned children, including professional training and legal care.

The Ukrainian government is taking steps to improve the wellbeing of orphaned youth in the country. Ukraine’s Premier, Mykola Azarov, has called for the Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sports, to create programmes geared towards giving orphans a brighter future.

The programmes he suggested were professional training, “complex social adaptation” and legal protection, Kyiv Post reported.

A new approach, Premier Azarov reported, is needed to solve the challenges of social integration that orphans raised in boarding schools encounter upon graduation. Approximately 10 per cent of orphans attempt suicide after leaving school.

According to the charity, Haven Bridge, orphanages in Ukraine are divided into two categories: baby homes and children’s homes (or, boarding schools). Baby homes care for children aged three years and younger, while the boarding schools are run by the education ministry and care for children four year old and older.

Caregivers strive to care and nurture their wards. Still, more continuing support is needed to help children achieve the life skills, self-esteem and stability they will need for success upon leaving state care.

Statistics published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows that Ukraine is home to 810,000 orphaned children aged 17 or younger. UNICEF Ukraine notes that situation of social protection has left single-parent and multi-child households vulnerable. Some parents leave their children at home to find work abroad. Given the sum of these conditions, it is estimated that 65,000 of the country’s nine million children live in state-run institutions.

According to Haven Bridge, one third of all orphans end up in prison. Upon entering life on the outside of boarding schools, orphans struggle to find jobs and support—they aren’t alone, as 28 per cent of the Ukrainian population lives in poverty. Crime, drug addiction, prostitution and a life on the streets or in the control of human traffickers are other vulnerabilities they may face. Ukraine remains a source country for trafficked women and children from low-income households into the commercial sex industry or forced labour.

“Despite the government’s efforts to prevent child abandonment and create foster care within the community, the number of children in institutions has doubled in the past ten years,” UNICEF notes.