The forum was attended by over 300 participants, including commissioners for children's rights from 60 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, Federal Assembly officials and officials from related federal and regional ministries and agencies, as well as socially oriented NGOs.
The experts used four panels to discuss state childhood policies, digital custody and guardianship solutions, placing children in foster care, and preventive work with families facing challenging circumstances, as well as improving interagency cooperation in these areas.
In her report during the plenary session, Maria Lvova-Belova noted that keeping children in their birth families is among the key goals of the institute of the commissioners for children's rights. However, if reunification is impossible, efforts must be made to find foster parents. A family’s low income or modest living conditions are not reason enough to take a child away from the family, so it is necessary to support such children.
Maria Lvova-Belova discussed help for families in challenging circumstances and foster orphans, as well as the future life, the employment and socialisation of boarding school graduates and adult foster children at a meeting with the President. A bill was drafted to address the latter issue and submitted to the State Duma. The first reading is pending.
Other topics covered Russian foster families with about 1,700 orphans and children who were left without parental care from the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics currently residing in Russia. According to Maria Lvova-Belova, work is underway. Heads of the republics have provided their formal consent, a protocol of intent has been signed with the DPR and LPR commissioners for children’s rights, and a central office to regulate the corresponding legislative mechanisms of the three states has been set up. In addition to foster care, ongoing efforts include treatment, rehabilitation, rest and recreation, education, and the search for blood relatives.
In addition, Maria Lvova-Belova highlighted efforts to comprehensively prevent family problems in a timely manner, including parental alcoholism. In terms of placing children with foster families, Maria Lvova-Belova said the efforts should not be limited to just one region.