Originally published on KHSI’s website
People often ask why we support children and families in Moldova when there are so many children in our own backyard that need help. This is always an interesting question because Keystone Human Services does support children and families in the United States. Capital Area Head Start is one of our programs, serving over 1,100 children and families in Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties in Pennsylvania, and we provide services and supports for children through our other services, such as our early intervention services for children from birth to three years of age and behavioral health services for children and adolescents.
Our history and expertise providing community-based human services can benefit people in other countries. Our mission and vision is not limited to serving those within specific geographical boundaries, but should reach individuals on a global level. Consistent with our vision and Keystone’s strategic intent, we have an obligation to share ideas, service models, and our expertise with those in other countries who wish to learn and benefit from all we know and do through our organization. We have been honored to partner with the Open Society Foundations, the Soros Foundation, the Government of Moldova, the United States Agency for International Development, the European Commission, the Clinton Global Initiative, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), and the International Federation of Educative Communities (FICE), which have assisted us to carry out our initiatives and goals for a better and safer world. We have the opportunity to provide consultation and support to Romania, the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, and Moldova through these partnerships.
From our initial interaction with local social service workers in Moldova in 2002, KHS has been invited by other Eastern European countries to visit their communities, provide training and consultation, share our expertise, and work with other providers in developing community-based services and supports for individuals in very untenable situations, similar to those experienced in Pennsylvania in 1972 when Keystone Human Services was founded. The bias toward an institutional model of care is still strong in many countries, including the United States, even while we continue to advance a strong community-based model.
Keystone Human Services looks at best practices in human services from a global perspective, and often, we see more natural, efficient service models outside the United States. Countries like Moldova that have few financial resources need to rely on natural supports, and those natural supports are the ideal support system, focusing on relationships that occur in daily life. People with disabilities receive support from their family, friends, neighbors, and others within the community, rather than paid support.
Of interest is the Community for All-Moldova Program, in which the majority of those leaving institutions are joining their families, and only a small number of individuals are moving into residential services. In addition, the Community Centers in Tudora and Bacioi provide educational, social, psychological, and nutrition services to children and their families living in difficult social situations.
Our strategic plan calls for us to be a global leader in human services. Our work in Moldova honors and supports people to live within their community, and we are continually learning from our experience. As we assist Moldova to move forward in the process of supporting people, we are looking at ways we can be a resource and an asset for other countries. Disability issues are global and there is no one country that needs more assistance than another.
Please consider joining me in supporting Keystone Human Services’ work in Moldova. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us move forward toward an inclusive, global community.