Children and the future

Child neglect is one of the most acute social problems in Russia. The number of orphans in Russia grows every year and is now nearing 740,000, that is 3% of the total child population in the country.

In 2006 Severstal initiated and began implementing a unique program, Road Home Program, which focuses on the comprehensive prevention of child neglect and social orphanhood in the town of Cherepovets.

The Road Home Program provides foster care for orphaned children and prevention of child neglect and social orphanhood, including early prevention. Road Home focuses on finding the solution to underlying problems resulting in orphanhood and neglect of underage children, and crisis in family relationships. For example, the Foster Parents School supports those who would like to take a child into foster care or experiences problems with foster children. The School also focuses on the prevention of foster children abandonment.

A Childhood telephone hotline is available, as well as the Psychological Advice Service, where any resident of the region can get access to professional psychological help or information on the available social services. Additionally, a whole range of other initiatives are underway.

Road Home started as a joint project of Severstal, local authorities and social and psychological workers from a non-profit organization in Cherepovets. In 2009, Severstal expanded this program from Cherepovets to the whole Vologda Oblast, and in 2011, to other regions of Severstal (Vorkuta, Kostomuksha, Balakovo and Veliky Ustyug). In 2013, the program was expanded to Olenegorsk, and in 2014, to Volgograd.

Since the launch of this program, five out of nine orphanages were closed down in Cherepovets because 362 children out of 552 found their new families. 724 children returned to their biological or substitute families. The program also provides professional psychological, social and financial support to 13,000 more citizens of Cherepovets every year through its various projects.

Experts acknowledge that currently Cherepovets and the Vologda Region are among the best examples of a successful state-private partnership in resolving social orphanhood issues in Russia.

The uniqueness of the program lies in its fundamentally new approaches to social work and in the real tripartite consolidation of efforts of:

  • the business (the Program initiator and donor - OAO Severstal);
  • authorities (co-financing – regional budget, the Cherepovets part of the Program is headed by the Mayor, the regional part is coordinated by the Department for Labor and Social Development of the Vologda Region);
  • society (as organizers and participants – healthcare and educational institutions, social security bodies, non-profit organizations).