In 2011, we began our Mobile Unit and are the only one of its kind in Ukraine. The Unit is a professional intervention working in impoverished neighborhoods in 6 of the 10 districts of Kiev. We have Police backing and Social Services refer cases to us. Our staff includes social workers, child psychologist and Vera, who heads up the Unit, has a law degree which is invaluable in advocating for children in the courts.
The Unit responds 24/7 to calls on their “hot line” reporting child abuse and neglect. These calls come from such sources as relatives or neighbors. One of our drivers always accompanies the Unit staff to the home for safety. Often conditions are shocking. If children are in immediate danger, Police will be called to remove them. Ultimately, it is best if a family unit can be restored. However, there are cases where parents refuse to go to drug/alcohol rehabilitation or to make their places inhabitable and to take proper care of their children. In such cases, the children are removed and eventually the parents legally lose their parental rights. In other cases, children are removed for a period of time – our Unit tries to place children in Christian living situations – and when the parents have shown they have changed, the children can be returned home, with regular home visits from our social workers.
We also provide humanitarian aid in the form of medication and basic food packages to very poor families. The Unit has a case load of around 300 families at any one time. Many of these very vulnerable children would have had no protection or help without our Unit.