Post by Charlie Hooker, President and CEO of Keystone Human Services International
Originally posted on KHSI’s website
In November 2014, Keystone Human Services International Moldova Association (Keystone Moldova) was recognized by UNICEF Moldova as a Child Rights Champion for their efforts to protect children’s rights and the inclusion of children with disabilities in the community. Keystone Moldova now has an exciting opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise to make the world a safer place for children.
Keystone Human Services International (KHSI) and Keystone Moldova are participating in a new initiative to support community-based social and health services for children with disabilities and their families. Funded by UNICEF Kazakhstan, we will be providing consultation services to the Ministry of Health and Social Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan to develop a national strategic and evidence-based roadmap for community-based services for children ages 0-7 at risk of being abandoned or without parental care.
Kazakhstan is taking steps to ensure the protection of children’s basic rights, aligned with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention protects children’s rights to grow up in a family environment, to education, to health, and to protection from harm.
Of Kazakhstan’s 5.3 million children, approximately 30,000 live in state-run child care institutions, and many have lost all contact with their families. We have assembled an international team of consultants to support the Ministry of Health and Social Development to develop a national roadmap to reform this system of care and develop community-based services for children at risk of being abandoned or without parental care. Over the course of a year, the team will provide technical assistance and consultation to strengthen the data management system and develop a preliminary plan for transforming the operation of infant homes and medical social facilities for children with disabilities, as well as providing additional technical advice.
This international team is led by Dr. Ludmila Malcoci, the Executive Director of Keystone Moldova. It also includes Dr. Donald Wertlieb, President of the Partnership for Early Childhood Development and Disability Rights (PECDDR) and Professor Emeritus at Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University; Eugenia Veverita, an economist and expert in public finance management; and Dr. Anna Kudiyarova, Director of the Psychoanalytic Institute for Central Asia.
The work of this international team builds on Keystone Moldova’s experience and expertise providing inclusive, community-based systems of care in the Republic of Moldova. For the past ten years, Keystone Moldova has been actively involved in the reform of the social protection system for people with disabilities in Moldova and has supported the Moldovan Ministry of Labor, Social Protection, and Family in the transformation of the Orhei Institution for Children (Boys) with Intellectual Disabilities, including the development of the legal framework and policy for social inclusion, and the development and implementation of over 60 pilot community-based services for people with intellectual disabilities.
As we have seen in Moldova and we’re sure we’ll see in Kazakhstan, community integration opens many opportunities for children and adults at risk of institutionalization, from education in classrooms with their peers to employment opportunities. The entire community benefits from inclusion.