Reforming Child Welfare in the Post-Soviet Space: Institutional Change in Russia
The authors introduce ongoing child welfare reform in Russia, consider the international and national context, as well as the main drivers of these reforms and their current results. In addition, a literature review of field is also provided. Child welfare reform in Russia builds on the idea of every child’s right to grow up in a family. The main aim is to deinstitutionalize the child welfare system by promoting adoptions and fostering, restructuring the remaining residential institutions into home-like environments and creating community-based family support services. The chapter introduces the main concepts and terminology used to describe the child welfare system, the research questions of the volume, and employs a neo-institutionalist framework as the theoretical framework of the book. The volume analyses how reform is implemented, which echoes a fundamental change in the ideological premises of child welfare policy. Thus, the reform has shifted the course of the child welfare policy in Russia. The volume examines how the reforms are affecting the institutions and practices of child welfare in Russia, what kind of institutional change has followed the shift in the ideals, and what are the intended and unintended consequences of these reform processes. Finally, the chapter gives a brief overview of the chapters in the volume.
The chapter traces and explains responses to deinstitutionalisation reforms in the Russian regions. Three parallel policy shifts are taken into account: deinstitutionalisation (DI), public sector reform, and social provision reform. Considered together, they shed light on the logic behind childcare reform implementation at the regional level in the broader context of social policy transformations in Russia. Taking a neo-institutional perspective, the chapter studies compliance and resistance as two types of responses to the federal demand to introduce a new institutional design. Three institutional changes are in focus: (1) the restructuring of public providers with an emphasis on support services and the temporary placement of children; (2) changes to which ministries are in charge of alternative care; and (3) downsizing public sector agents traditionally responsible for this type of care and outsourcing social services to NGOs. The chapter seeks to identify regions that either comply with or resist these reforms, exploring how regional contexts explain variation in responses. The chapter’s empirical analysis reveals regional patterns of resistance and compliance as well as exceptional cases and the socioeconomic contexts which account for them.