This motto united Kherson region during the regional conference dedicated to the issues of improving the quality of social services to vulnerable population groups, such as disabled children, orphans and families in difficult life circumstances.
On January 27, at the premises of the tourist complex “Fregat” there was the first thematic conference of the regional level. It brought up the question of development of social services in Kherson region. The conference brought together over 300 participants. Without exaggeration, it was a significant event for the entire region. During the conference, they discussed current problems in the social sphere both in Kherson region and in Ukraine.
For the conference not only to become a theoretical foundation and the basis for reflection on reforming the social sphere, but also to result in the adoption of effective solutions, the organizers of the conference gathered representatives of government, business, non-governmental and charitable organizations, volunteers of social services and leaders of Christian communities.
The first block of the conference was motivating and sought to convey the importance of reforming and development of social services in Kherson region to all the participants.
The monopoly of the state in the social sphere, as experience has shown, has not justified itself. It is necessary to engage non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious communities to perform such services together with state social workers. Only such a model was proven to be effective according to European experience
The conference began with the speech of the Head of Supervisory Board of Orphans’ Ministry “My Home”, board member of the Alliance “Ukraine Without Orphans” Gordenko Aleksandr: “For 15 years we have been working on the development of adoption, support of orphans and orphanage graduates. However, today we have to talk about the huge problem of children and families in difficult life circumstances. If we do not urgently start comprehensive work not only with the consequences but also with the causes of these negative phenomena, we will not be able to overcome the problem of orphans and orphanages”.
The head of the region Andriy Gordieiev also took the stage and thanked everyone for caring: “Nowadays, the first question to the heads of the region, each representing his own program in regional state administration is the condition of social protection of children. In 2016, 95.5% of children were provided with family care, but there is still a lot of work to do. Today we have gathered here people with big hearts, who not only pay attention to their families but also want to help kids find families”.
During his speech, the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights, Mykola Kuleba, said:
“The reform of social sphere is the development of services in communities. If we aim to join Europe, we have to create a system to provide the necessary services to families with children in the community. Last year, orphanages received 7 billion UAH of budget money and 250 million UAH of official charity care, while the state has spent only UAH 360 million for social services for children in families.
In institutional care system, they spend 156 UAH per child daily, of which the share spent on the individual child’s needs is only UAH 27 per day (23 UAH – for food, 1 UAH – for medical treatment, 3 UAH – for clothes). The amount of allowance for social services for children in crisis families makes UAH 1.7 per day. Today 18% of children in orphanages have permanent disability, 50% have special needs, 90% have impaired health and development, 100% of them are isolated, deprived of the right to have a family. Most of them suffer violence and humiliation. Thousands of graduates of orphanages, not having their own homes or shelter, wander around Ukraine. Let`s combine all our efforts for the safety and wellbeing of each child in the family!”
Barakh, Iryna Vasylivna was one of the speakers at the conference and a representative of the business area. She confirmed her willingness to assist not only with words, but also with real steps. In her speech, she said: “The concept of social responsibility emerged in the West in the mid XX century. It states that business, besides compliance with laws and manufacture of quality products, voluntarily assumes additional responsibilities to society, makes a significant contribution to improving quality of people’s lives. I would like to announce the opening of a new social enterprise in Kherson region at the territory of Korobky village council of Kakhovka district. It is created to finance charity projects of NGO “Center for Family and Parenthood Development” and the NGO “Ridna Zemlia” (Fatherland).
Panel discussion was the next block of the conference. Its goal was to discuss the possibility of cooperation between civil society, religious communities, business and government to overcome the crisis of family and family values in society. Participants of this public debate were the following:
- Shelashskyi Oleh – vice president of the Alliance “Ukraine Without Orphans”
- Kuleba Mykola – Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights
- Babiichuk Oleksandr – Secretary General of Ukrainian Bible Society, Bishop of Kherson Regional Union of Churches of Christians of Evangelical Faith;
- Markeliia Eliko – Head of Georgian Diaspora “Ilori” in Kherson, social activist, volunteer, entrepreneur;
- Mutsenko Dmytro – Director of the Regional Centre of Social Services for Family, Children and Youth
- Matios Maria – Ukrainian writer and deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Supreme Council of Ukraine), Shevchenko National Prize winner for literature
- Archpriest Yevhenii Sidorenko – senior priest of Holy Trinity Church of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate of Kherson Diocese
- Mikhieieva Olena – Head of Service for Children’s Affairs of Kherson Regional State Administration
The outcome of the discussion was the common opinion of all the participants that effective cooperation in social sphere in Kherson region depends on creation of a common vision and strategy and coordinated cooperation of all parties.
The response to such a request may be opening of the NGO “Center for Family and Parenthood Development”, which was reported by the director of NGO “Center for Family and Parenthood Development” Marynchak Yuri. This NGO may be a platform that will unite efforts of representatives of government agencies, businesses, religious leaders and NGOs for cooperation in the area of social services and charity in Kherson region.
“We need to stop the fight with consequences and start working with reasons. NGO “Center for Family and Parenthood Development” is a platform for cooperation in Kherson region. We will work using two basic principles:
- The first one is work with the source of the problem;
- The second one is consolidation and coordination of efforts of all the parties involved.
During the third block of the conference, tools for elimination of child abandonment and assistance to families in difficult circumstances were presented, including:
- Creation of the Center for Early Intervention to prevent children’s disabilities at an early age.
- The concept “One church – one family”. Project for Christian churches’ assistance to families that find themselves in difficult life circumstances (DLC).
- Potential use of training centers in the activities of NGOs and volunteers.
- Patronage as an intermediate form of family upbringing of orphans.
- Mentorship as a form of recruiting volunteers to help families that find themselves in DLC and orphans.
As the outcome of the conference and further evidence of the actual work, the Memorandum on cooperation in the area of social services and charity in Kherson region was designed, which will be the beginning of great changes in the social sphere not only of Kherson region, but probably of the entire Ukraine.
The parties that agreed to sign the Memorandum are:
- Administration of the President of Ukraine represented by Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights
- Kherson Regional State Administration represented by the Head of Regional State Administration
- Kherson Regional Council, represented by Deputy Chairman of the Regional Council
- Representatives of businesses and entrepreneurs of Kherson city and Kherson region
- Council of Christian Churches of Kherson region
- NGO “Center for Family and Parenthood Development”