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Families, Individuals and Foster Care

The IWC and the Charities group continue their support towards Families, Individuals and Foster Families. Currently we have 15 different projects within this group, supporting them with food, medication, clothes and whatever special needs they might have.

Taking care of these “projects” is in many cases on a very personal level where time, trust and commitment is needed, but thanks to coordinators’ and volunteers’ tireless efforts and dedication, we are managing these difficult tasks as well.

Foster care in Russia is in tile early stages of development. It differs greatly in its structure from current foster care models in the US and Europe. There is no specific law governing foster care in Russia. As a result, foster parents and their children lack basic governmental guidelines and support.

Over the past year, the International Women’s Club Charities (IWCC) volunteers have been actively working to (a) unite local foster families and non-governmental organizations that support the rights of children, (b) facilitate the opening of a center that provides psychological, educational and legal assistance to foster families and (c) create legislation that would encourage the development of foster care and other alternatives to the institutionalization of children in Russia.

IWCC volunteers have identified 15 foster care families in Moscow. Some of these families are not legally registered despite the fact that they have taken in foster children with the agreement of government-run institutions. Without being officially registered, these families are not able to receive government subsidies and benefits that would supplement food, educational, medical, and legal costs related to caring for children who have been institutionalized or living on the streets. In addition, Moscow’s foster families vary in size from l to 16 children. Although, by law most of these families have the right to larger living space (temporary apartments that the government is supposed to provide), it is extremely difficult for foster parents to overcome the bureaucracy hurdles that would make this a reality.

There is little training available for potential foster care parents, and support groups for existing families are only beginning to emerge. Often parents feel hopeless, tired and worn down by the system. Yet, despite their lack of support, these foster families are united by one goal---helping children to recover from the past and to feel genuinely wanted and loved. It is not an easy task, as many of these children suffer from past psychological and physical abuse. Though in many cases they have been labeled  hopeless by the state, with time foster parents have seen great leaps in the psychological and educational development of their children. Many of the children, after placement in foster families, have been able to excel academically in sports and in cultural pursuits. Both foster parents and their children agree that no state-run institution can substitute for the love and support that a family provides.

The IWCC Group is seeking volunteers who speak Russian or have some experience in social work to continue the support and development of foster care in Russia. Hours are flexible and volunteer work with these families is extremely challenging and rewarding. If you are interested please contact us at iwc_charities@yahoo.com