In March 2014, Kris Sahonchik, Director of the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy at the University of Southern Maine, returned from several weeks in Russia on an exchange program to enhance child protection, foster care and adoption. The purpose of the trip, which followed visits to the United States from Russian child welfare professionals, was to exchange information and ideas to improve child welfare practices in both countries.
Ms. Sahonchik, one of three Fellows focused on permanency for children for the US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE), met with human services professionals and toured orphanages and other child welfare facilities in St. Petersburg, Perm, and Moscow. She then made presentations to faculty and students at Moscow State University and social service professionals at the International Conference for the Deinstitutionalization of Orphans, hosted by the Moscow City Government Department of Social Welfare and the Social Project Development Center.
Based on the available numbers, Russia has a significantly higher number of children in government care than the United States and it has a large majority of those children in orphanages, rather than in foster care as they are in the US. In Russia, as in the United States, Ms. Sahonchik recommends a stronger and continuing emphasis on gathering and analyzing empirical information to determine the kinds of policies and procedures that are effective and consistent with the cultural norms of the region.
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