International Collaboration to Help Children in Foster Care

1/22/2014  - 

International Collaboration to Help Children 

Russia and the United States are vastly different countries in many ways, but they have some important things in common including a significant population of children in foster care who are seeking permanent homes.  To help both countries do a better job of addressing the needs of these children, an international exchange was held recently at the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at Capital University Law School.

The United States and Russia Child Protection Working Group conducted a site visit at the Center. The working group, consisting of six adoption and child welfare experts from Russia and five  from the United States, is part of the U.S.-Russian Social Expertise Exchange. During a week in Columbus, the group visited NCALP to learn more about the center’s work related to permanency and connections for youth through law and policy reform, education and training.  The visit was part of a six-month project aimed at sharing expertise on foster care.  In particular, the Russian experts were collecting information about strategies that support permanency for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system.

“This was a fascinating opportunity for each country to learn about the other,” Denise St. Clair, NCALP’s executive director said. “I was especially interested to learn about the changes being made in foster care in Russia, including the increasing use of family foster homes.”

At the center, working group members heard about NCALP’s work on supporting permanency and connections for youth, including initiatives aimed at child abuse prevention, safe reunification of foster children with their birth families and, where that is not possible, programs fostering the creation of permanent connections through adoption, kinship care and other long-term relationships.  

St. Clair noted that the Russians were particularly interested in learning more about U.S. courts’ participation in permanency planning.  “Unlike U.S. courts, Russian courts have very limited roles in relation to children and youth in foster care,” she explained.

In addition to NCALP staff, speakers included: 

  • Steve Hanson, manager of the Children, Families and the Courts section at the Ohio Supreme Court, who spoke about the court-sponsored permanency planning initiatives, including Beyond the Numbers, a program that fosters collaboration on permanency goals among courts and child-serving agencies at a local level.
  • Judge Denise Cubbon of the Lucas County Juvenile Court, who addressed court strategies, including a youth-directed transition plan being piloted in four Ohio counties.
  • Capital Law Professor Angela Upchurch, who spoke about the experiential education offered at the Law School in these areas. 

 

The formal program was followed by open discussion facilitated by simultaneous English-Russian translation. Ultimately, the exchange between the two countries will lead to a virtual conference to be held in April 2014 to exchange lessons learned.