1st Edition

Reforming Child Welfare in the Post-Soviet Space Institutional Change in Russia

    252 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    252 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides new and empirically grounded research-based knowledge and insights into the current transformation of the Russian child welfare system. It focuses on the major shift in Russia’s child welfare policy: deinstitutionalisation of the system of children’s homes inherited from the Soviet era and an increase in fostering and adoption.

    Divided into four sections, this book details both the changing role and function of residential institutions within the Russian child welfare system and the rapidly developing form of alternative care in foster families, as well as work undertaken with birth families. By analysing the consequences of deinstitutionalisation and its effects on children and young people as well as their foster and birth parents, it provides a model for understanding this process across the whole of the post-Soviet space.

    It will be of interest to academics and students of social work, sociology, child welfare, social policy, political science, and Russian and East European politics more generally.

    Part 1: Introduction

    1. Introduction: Russian Child Welfare Reform and Institutional Change
    Meri Kulmala, Maija Jäppinen, Anna Tarasenko and Anna Pivovarova

    Part 2: Changing Numbers, Shifting Discourses

    2. Statistics on the Deinstitutionalization of Child Welfare in Russia
    Svetlana Biryukova and Alla Makarentseva 

    3. The ‘Last-minute Children’: Where did they come from, where will they go? Media Portrayals of Children Deprived of Parental Care 2006-2018
    Elena Yarskaya-Smirnova and Olga Kosova and Rostislav Kononenko

    Part 3: Transforming Institutions 

    4. The Ideal (Re)organization of Care: Child Welfare Reform as a Battlefield over Resources and Recognition
    Meri Kulmala, Larisa Shpakovskaya and Zhanna Chernova 

    5. Institutional Variety rather than the End of Residential Care: Regional Responses to Deinstitutionalisation Reform in Russia
    Anna Tarasenko 

    6. ‘One has to Stop Chasing Numbers!’ The Unintended Consequences of Russian Child Welfare Reform
    Maija Jäppinen and Meri Kulmala 

    Part 4: Foster And Birth Families Under Institutional Change 

    7. ‘Making’ a Family: The Motives and Practices of Foster Parenting
    Zhanna Chernova and Larisa Shpakovskaya 

    8. No Longer Parents or Parents in Need of Support? Views of Child Welfare Experts on Birth Parents
    Maija Jäppinen 

    Part 5: Children In Care: Social Adaptation And Aftercare  

    9. The Successful Transition to Foster Care: The Child's Perspective
    Larisa Shpakovskaya and Zhanna Chernova

    10. Young Adults Leaving Care: Agency and Educational Choice 
    Meri Kulmala, Zhanna Chernova and Anna Fomina 

    Part 6: Conclusions

    11. In Conclusion: The Fragmented Implementation of the New Child Welfare PolicyMeri
    Kulmala, Maija Jäppinen, Anna Tarasenko and Anna Pivovarova


    Meri Kulmala holds a PhD in sociology and works as a university researcher and research coordinator of the Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ) in the Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Helsinki, Finland. She works and publishes on issues of post-socialist welfare state and civil society development, women’s activism, family and child welfare policy and feminist research methods. She leads an international interdisciplinary research project on child welfare in Russia and is involved in a project exploring youth well-being in the Arctic region, with her focus being on the well-being of young care leavers, which she studies principally through participatory research methods.

    Maija Jäppinen holds a PhD in social work and works as both a university lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences in University of Helsinki and a postdoctoral researcher in the Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Her research interests include Russian studies, gender violence, child welfare, social work practice research, social work with migrants, power asymmetries in social work encounters, migrant citizenisation, and human rights. Methodologically, she specialises in ethnographic research, qualitative research in different kinds of transnational settings, and feminist methodology.

    Anna Tarasenko holds a PhD in political science. Her current research focuses on the non-profit sector development in Russia. She has accomplished empirical research on various types of non-profits and their involvement in social service provision as well as engagement in interest representation in contemporary Russia. She has worked as a researcher in several international research projects, including the UNRISD research project ‘New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South’and the international research project based at the University of Helsinki entitled ‘A Child’s Right to a Family: Deinstitutionalisation of Child Welfare in Putin’s Russia’.

    Anna Pivovarova is a social anthropologist working on parenting, childhood and kinship. She holds a master’s degree in anthropology from the European University at St. Petersburg and works as a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki focusing on adoptive and foster parenthood in today Russia. She has conducted research and published on modern home birth practice and independent midwifery, and participated in research projects on maternity healthcare, child welfare and alternative family care in Russia. Her research interests include medical anthropology, new kinship studies, narrative analysis, invented traditions, rituals and modern folklore.