Statistics on the Deinstitutionalisation of Child Welfare in Russia
In this chapter, we evaluate the process of the Russian child welfare system deinstitutionalisation based on official statistical data. After an analysis of key transformations in the Russian child welfare system over the past 20 years, we consider official statistics during a shift towards a new model of childcare defined within Decree #481 in 2014. Although the formally declared ideal type of care is family-based placement, we question whether this dominant vision of alternative care is reflected in observable data for the entire country. We estimate the dynamics of primary risk of placement to alternative care, prevalence of family reunions, as well as foster family–based and residential institutional placements. Special attention is paid to alternative care placements of children with disabilities. In addition to that, we follow the transformation of institutional care and show how residential institutions of various types keep up with the pace of reform. We conclude that the declared goals are only partially realised: institutions are being reorganised, but unevenly and sometimes formally, without changing the living conditions of children. Meanwhile, the prevalence of alternative family-based care is growing, while, on the other hand, birth family reunions remain relatively rare.