First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska had a meeting with the delegation of the European Union including Vice President of the European Commission Dubravka Šuica, Minister for Social Services of Sweden Camilla Waltersson Grönvall and Vice Speaker of the European Parliament, Coordinator for Children's Rights Ewa Bożena Kopacz. The parties discussed the development of family forms of upbringing.
At the meeting, which was also attended by Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Oksana Zholnovych and Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden Tobias Thyberg, the President's wife assured that family upbringing of children is a priority of national policy and meets EU standards.
The First Lady emphasized that the development of family forms of upbringing is complicated by the fact that some of the children who need to be placed in families are outside Ukraine due to the Russian invasion. At the same time, due to hostilities, not all Ukrainian communities can actively participate in supporting families in family upbringing.
"EU states have recognized the need to protect children's rights as key. Ukraine is grateful for this, but at the same time it is not only our task. Violation of rights sets a bad precedent for the whole world. If children suffer in one country, childhood as a phenomenon is in danger," emphasized the First Lady.
The participants of the meeting noted that in continuation of the previously implemented agreements between Olena Zelenska and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, work has begun in the country on the creation of an office that will coordinate the reform of the system of raising orphans and children deprived of parental care. The plan of its work and the concept of the reform have been formed. Funds for the expansion of the office are planned to be directed from EBRD financing.
On April 13 and 18 of this year, a training session was held on strategic planning and the involvement of key central executive authorities and experts, in particular from the public sector, where the experience of reform in EU countries (Romania, Bulgaria) was presented. The second part of this event will take place in May.
An updated training program for candidates for foster parents / guardians / adopters was approved, 48 coaches were trained for courses in all regions of Ukraine, including three people from the public sector. In the first quarter of 2023, the following number of candidates was trained: foster families / family type children’s homes - 377 people, guardians - 1017 people, adopters - 1945 people, foster carers - 110 people, mentors - 43 people; 2574 foster parents graduated from programs to improve their upbringing potential; 850 specialists in the social sphere, who accompany family forms of upbringing, have undergone appropriate training.
"Ukraine is fighting for family upbringing in such conditions that no other country has ever fought in before. But despite the wartime, the state continues the transition to family upbringing. This reform is important for Ukraine not only because it is among the obligations to the EU. First of all, this is a moral task if we want to have a healthy society. For my part, I am ready to continue advocating this issue," the First Lady said.
She emphasized that support from the international community, in particular the institutions of the European Union, in the development of family forms of upbringing is extremely important for Ukraine.
"Safe childhood is not only a Ukrainian value. Children's rights, like human rights, have no borders. And Ukraine is fighting for security and equality for everyone," said Olena Zelenska.