MOSCOW, JUNE 11, 2021 – Child protection services and support for families in difficulty have improved dramatically in Russia over the past 30 years, but several challenges remain, according to a new World Bank report, Organization and Delivery of Child Protection Services in Russia, which is accompanied by Two Case Studies: the Leningrad Oblast and the Republic of Tatarstan.
Since the late 1990s, Russia has reoriented its child protection system to focus more on prevention of child neglect and orphanhood, as well as family placement of children left without parental care. The country has seen significant results. The number of children each year entering specialized institutions for orphans and children left without parental care decreased by 19 percent from 2009 to 2020. In addition, the total number of children in public care declined by 40 percent during the same period.
Family placement for children has increased and institutionalization of children left without parental care has declined. 81 percent of children identified each year as deprived of parental care are placed in family care. These trends reflect concerted efforts by the Russian Government to develop and expand its system of family-based placement for children – specifically paid foster care, which did not exist in Russia prior to the 2000s.
To help prevent orphanhood and child neglect and abuse, and to assist families in difficulty, a network of social work and care service organizations was established throughout Russia. The role of non-governmental, non-profit organizations (NGOs) in providing services to vulnerable families and children has increased significantly in recent years.
However, the report also notes that a number of serious issues need to be addressed. In particular, the rate of children in public care remains high – 1,673 per 100,000 children – which is higher than in many other upper middle-income/high income countries. Timely identification of families at risk and interventions to prevent child neglect, abuse and separation also remain inadequate. Few regions in Russia have adopted a comprehensive system of social work and care services as a core element of the child protection system.
“To ensure that each child grows in a protective, healthy and loving family, it is necessary to fully implement three key tenets of the child protection policy: prevention of child neglect, abuse and family distress; assistance to families experiencing these issues; and family placement for children who must be separated from their families, with the objective of reuniting the family as soon as possible,” said Renaud Seligmann, World Bank Country Director and Resident Representative for the Russian Federation.
Over the next five to ten years, Russia should aim to decrease the number of children identified each year as left without parental care and placed in residential care; introduce a no-institutionalization policy for children below school age, irrespective of their health status; and introduce a policy of suitable placement for adolescents.
The report offers several recommendations for further improving Russia’s child protection system, which include: selecting at the federal level a single executive body responsible for all matters concerning the national policy for protection of vulnerable children and their families; further developing preventive services; establishing clear accountability rules and robust monitoring within the child protection system; strengthening the data system of child protection infrastructure; and improving budget reporting on child protection spending.