As of the beginning of 2020, there are children in Uzbekistan whose families are unable to care for them. Current practice is to place those children in state orphanages.
The greatest number of those children, however, have at least one parent living, if not both, or other family who could provide a home. Often, children are placed in the orphanage system when their parents go abroad to find work (“economic migrants”).
Once a child has been placed in an orphanage, it becomes highly unlikely that he or she will return to family, even if a parent subsequently returns from working abroad. Studies have shown that children adopted or ageing out of the orphanage system are at much higher risk of committing crime or abusing substances than the general population.
Several Government of Uzbekistan (GoU) ministries share responsibility for orphans, including the Ministry of Public Education (MoPE), the Minstry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA).
Vatandosh has been working with the MoPE, the Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan, the Uzbek Oila Family Center and National Center for the Social Adaptation of Children (RCSAD), UNICEF Uzbekistan, UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work and Duke University to develop approaches to the reformation of the orphanage system. These efforts led to the founding of the Uzbekistan Working Group for Alternative Care (UWCAG).
Poverty Stoplight is a program developed by the Fundación Paraguaya (Asunción, Paraguay) that self-surveys people and households in need and empowers them to meet the challenges of their lives. It measures 50 indicators of need in six areas.
Vatandosh is now seeking funding to become the official administrator of the Poverty Stoplight program in Uzbekistan. It is Vatandosh’s aim to make Poverty Stoplight widely available to local neighborhood administrations (mahallas); GoU ministries; non- ministerial agencies; non-governmental organizations; banks offering microfinancing; and corporations seeking to improve the lives of their employees. Every individual or family included in a Poverty Stoplight will receive a monthly visit from a trained Vatandosh field officer to check on their progress and provide coaching.
Pilot projects have been designed that emphasize:
Gatekeeping: addressing the needs of families at risk of an orphanage placement so that the family remains intact and no placement is needed;
Returning children already placed in orphanages to their nuclear or extended families;
Reintegrating children leaving the orphanage system, included returned and adopted children as well as those ageing out, into Uzbek society.
A full proposal for this program is available on request.