For Immediate Release
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, the Gorbachev Foundation, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on March 11, 2010 for joint activities in support of child welfare systems and enhanced social services for vulnerable children and families in Russia.
"USAID is proud to enter into an alliance with such respected national leaders as the Gorbachev Foundation and NFPCC," stated USAID/Russia Acting Mission Director Keith Simmons. "We expect that this type of relationship -- with U.S. and Russian organizations working in full and equal partnership on critical issues of global importance -- will be a model for future cooperation."
The first initiative supported under the partnership launched will be a Safe Childhood Project implemented by the National Foundation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. This project will create a high-level forum for representatives from government, scientific and professional communities to discuss challenges in child welfare and exchange best practices in welfare reform.
Through the Safe Childhood Project, USAID and the Gorbachev Foundation will help focus national and international attention on these critical issues. Significant progress has been made and reforms carried out in regions such as Tomsk Oblast and Perm can serve as national models. But much more needs to be done to ensure that every Russian has the opportunity for a childhood free of abuse or abandonment.
"Improving child welfare is vital to the future progress of both our countries," commented U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle at the signing ceremony. "I know that together, we can help reduce the number of vulnerable children and bring increased visibility to the significant progress and on-going challenges in this area."
According to the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development, over 730,000 Russian children are officially registered as without parental care, with 122,600 children orphaned or abandoned in 2007 alone. Although there have been increased efforts in recent years to place such children in family-based care, more than 150,000 children are currently institutionalized in Russia - including 25,000 disabled children and approximately 14,000 children under four years old.
Studies have shown that institutionalized children have significant problems integrating into society as adults and are at a much higher risk for drug abuse, HIV and criminal activity. To address these challenges, the Government of Russia has prioritized reducing child abandonment and supporting the development of family-based care for children at risk.
Founded by former Soviet Union President Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev in December 1991, The Gorbachev Foundation is an international non-governmental non-profit organization that conducts research into social, economic and political problems of critical importance. The Foundation seeks to promote democratic values as well as moral and humanist principles in the life of society. The Foundation facilitates open-minded dialogue among experts and the public and wants to apply research.
"One can judge the development level of a society by its attitude towards its weakest and most vulnerable members. By helping children in hard-life situations, we are laying the foundation for a more humane and fair world in the future," said Gorbachev.
Last updated: May 17, 2012