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Accompanying foster children from residential care homes into adulthood was discussed at the remote teachers' council

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An extended meeting of the pedagogical council was held in Moscow, dedicated to working with pupils with multiple developmental disabilities. The online event was attended by experts from the Center for Curative Pedagogy, Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “Usual Childhood”, specialists from the Center for Assistance to Family Education “Lesnoy”, as well as representatives of educational organizations of the Moscow Region.
At the round table, experts from the Center for Curative Pedagogy and the Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “Usual Childhood” shared their experience and gave recommendations on preparing graduates of residential care homes for an independent life and accompanying them when moving to psycho-neurological residential institutions.
Most of the wards of foster homes are former inmates of orphanages, and their fate largely depends on the methods of their transfer from a children's institution to an adult care home and the system of interaction between the these instutions as a whole.
The transition from an educational institution to a residential care home is a serious stress for people with developmental disabilities: they are deprived of their familiar connections, familiar environment and practically begin to live anew. With this in mind, it is important to prepare a person for a new life and accompany him. But the system of accompanied living in apartments has not yet been developed, and young people from children’s foster homes do not have a choice: upon reaching the age of 18, they are moved from one place to another, they are forced to adapt to an unfamiliar environment without anyone's help.
Maria Yancheva, project coordinator of the Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization "Usual Childhood" knows about the problem firsthand. She has repeatedly accompanied the transition from children’s residential care homes to those for adults. “Imagine: from a small group of peers, where everyone had an individual approach, an 18-year-old boy or girl finds himself in a company of different ages of strangers. Studying stops because there is no one to accompany him to school. In the institution, the development of any skills acquired in the preschool education is often stopped. For example, if a person has already got up from a stroller and tried to walk with a walker in a children's home, he will not be able to do this as an adult. He will be moved in a wheelchair, because it is faster and easier for the staff. But if you consolidate this skill from the DDI, a person will walk on his own. Sometimes graduates are transferred to a new institution in one day and they forget to collect and transfer their personal belongings. And they cannot ask for it".
Maria Yancheva proposes to unite the efforts of employees and establish the continuity of institutions for a painless transition from one care institution to anotherI and adaptation. “It is necessary to get acquainted in advance with the personnel of the foster home, to which the person is to be transferred and tell about his habits, skills, peculiarities. For example, someone eats with a spoon himself immediately, and someone only after the second reminder. If you do not know this, the skill will be lost and the person will become less independent. Self-care skills are much more important in an adult care institution. For example, a child who has been taught to move around the city in an educational institution will be able to continue to study at school or another educational institution even after the age of 18. The graduates should be able to use phone so that their connection with their favorite educators and volunteers is not interrupted".
“For graduates of preschool educational institutions it is necessary to plan the maximum level of independence and it is imperative to teach senior pupils the skills of self-service. The ideal option is a training apartment, where they will learn how to cook, clean, go to the store and handle money”, says Anna Bitova, chairman of the board of the Center for Curative Pedagogy. “Those graduates for whom it was not possible to find training apartments should be moved to adults residential care institutions together, so that the guys at least partially remain in their familiar environment, can communicate and support each other”.
But the most important thing that needs to be done when you change a person's life is to take into account his own opinion and give him the opportunity to choose. “Before moving, show your child his future «new home» and ask if he wants to live there or is it better to look for something else”, adds Anna Bitova.
The event was held within the framework of the project "Volunteers for special children and adults: assistance in normalizing the life of people with mental disorders in boarding schools", implemented by the Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization "Usual Childhood" with the use of a grant from the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society provided by the Presidential Grants Foundation.