World Children's Fund supports these children and many others in Ukraine through its network of orphanages and family homes filled with more than 1200 children. "Our ultimate goal is to prepare these kids to live successfully in an permanent family," said programme director, Slavik. New children admitted into the WCF programme first go to a seaside location for camp. The staff assesses each child's strengths and weaknesses, determines if abuse has occurred and begins building trust through sports, art and spending time together.
"Some of the children who come to us have never even slept in a bed," said one staff member.
Next, children move into a rehabilitation house. While living in the group home, they share a room with children of similar ages and experience. Many of the children have large gaps in their education. Each child receives a tailored educational program to accelerate to his or her grade expectations. Goals also include emotional and physical healing and restoration. Additionally, children often arrive with no birth certificates or records and staff goes through the legal process to rebuild each child's personal history and documents.
Once a child is stabilized, he joins a 'blended family' comprised of two house parents and up to eight other orphans. At each phase of the programme, children learn life skills in preparation for joining a new family. Siblings are kept together at every stage, up to and including placement in a permanent family. As children successfully transition into permanent homes, another orphan fills their place in the "family home".
"We create happy kids with new life stories," said Slavik, programme director. "The results of the programme are apparent when you look at the progress of each one."
This WCF supported programme has received two Presidential awards. The president of the Ukraine has visited the programme, met its directors and toured the facilities.