CHISINAU, MOLDOVA—Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI), in conjunction with the Romania Without Orphans Alliance and the Republic of Moldova’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection, hosted the Chemarea de a fi părinte (The Call of Parenting) Parenting Conference. The three-day seminar, May 22-24, gathered close to 500 participants to discuss the nuances of parenting youth living within the foster care system.
Organized with child protection system workers and foster families in mind, the conference explored topics like trauma-informed care for youth, self-care, and equipping families with techniques to maximize children’s sense of security.
CERI Executive Director Connie Belciug explains the conference grew from the interest of stakeholders and subject matter experts in the field of child protection in Moldova.
“We sent out a survey to ask the child protection professionals in the country if they would like to be involved in a conference that would explore how to better implement family-based services,” Belciug says. “We (in Moldova) have been in a constant state of reform for the last 20 years, and the conference is a response to the need for better implementation and better services to children within the current system.”
Since 2001, CERI has been at the forefront of the shift in Moldova from institutional-based care to the family-based care that has shown to produce better outcomes for the youth in the child protection system. The systemic change in the country has introduced many new challenges, one of which is getting the new policies into practice among child protection stakeholders.
“CERI has been part of the reform that has been happening in Moldova for the last 15 years,” explains Belciug. “We have been able to contribute to the development of legislation focused on the best interest of the child, and now we are dealing with how to make it trickle down to the ground level, to the child. Moldova has really good policy regarding child protection and alternative care services like kinship care, foster care and adoption,” says Belciug. “The legislative framework exists, but the implementation aspect needs improvement.”
To help, Moldova’s government has enlisted the strategic support of leading nonprofit agencies and professionals in the area of child welfare and protection from around the world.
“It’s moving the needle forward, for sure,” Belciug says of the government’s willingness to partner with experts in the best interests of children.
In addition to workshops and seminars led by professionals as well as parents of foster youth, the conference was a forum for question-and-answer sessions where participants could voice their own concerns, opinions, ideas and thoughts on how the foster care system has influenced their lives.
“The conference is the first of its kind and we hope to hold annual conferences about child protection as the reform matures,” indicates Ecaterina Babin, CERI’s National Program Director in Moldova. “It was a privilege to see the response of child protection officers and caregivers to the information and testimonies presented during the event. Many of them were moved to tears.”
At the end of the conference, CERI furnished participants and the governmental child protection departments represented at the conference with the documented outcomes reached during the workshops and seminars, as well as the policy recommendations made to improve the circumstances for children. Visit Facebook.com/CERIMoldova for photos of the Calling of Parenting Conference.
For information on CERI’s work around the world, visit CERIkids.org.