Submitted by Jonathan Hale
Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, USAID
During my recent trip to Russia, I was presented with USAID/Russia’s exciting new child welfare project implemented by a first-time Russian grantee, the National Foundation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NFPCC). This project, which was officially launched September 9, is very timely, as preventing child abandonment and supporting the development of family-based services for orphans are priorities for the Russian government.
Around 130 people participated last week in the official launch of USAID/Russia’s “Compass for Childhood” project. They included representatives of the Russian government, professional community, leading NGOs in child welfare and journalists writing about child welfare issues. Opened by the Russian government, the event focused on the presentation of the project’s goals and objectives to help Russian regions strengthen the system of care for vulnerable children and families. Although there has been substantial economic growth in Russia over the past decade, there were still over 126,000 children newly registered without parental care in 2009 alone. Although reforms are underway in several regions, there is still much to be done to improve the system of care nationwide and establish services to ensure children get the proper care they need and a family-based environment.
During my visit to Moscow, I was pleased to meet with NFPCC representatives, UNICEF, and representatives from other Embassies to discuss how we can work together with Russian government counterparts and civil society to support this priority area. Although we’ve worked with NFPCC for several years as a sub-grantee, I am thrilled that we’re a part of this new partnership, working directly with a Russian organization. This is a good example of the long-term work we are trying to do in Russia to build the capacity of civil society organizations such as NFPCC.