Alone, malnourished, and uncared for… In Armenia, there are more than 3,000 children placed in orphanages who have previously suffered the effects of neglect, abuse, and abandonment with no one else to turn to. With this in mind, FAR Children’s Center has pioneered a Foster Care Program aimed to make an impact on the lives of children in need and find them nurturing homes with foster parents.

To achieve this, FAR Children’s Center has organized a series of trainings within the scope of their “Social Inclusion of Vulnerable Children” project. The Social Inclusion project has three key pillars:the establishment of a social case managers’ institution, inclusive education in Armenia, and the reestablishment of child care and foster care institutions. The Foster Care Program first began in 2015 with a training strategy, which developed manuals and guidebooks for the specialists and foster families. The trainings were implemented in 2016.

Recently, Syunik has become the fourth region that brought together possible foster parents and families around a training table. The 6-day training covered topics such as program phases; the features of relationships between the child, foster family, biological family and specialist; parents’ abilities for responding to children’s needs; and the possible challenges and difficulties that may occur with a child in a family and some possible solutions.

The training attracted 17 parents coming from Goris, Kapan, Meghri, Karchevan, Bardzravan, and other communities.

In 2005, FAR partnered with the Armenian Government to develop the nation’s foster care program. Since then, FAR Children’s Center and UNICEF have been implementing the program aimed at helping the increasing number of abandoned children who were typically directed to boarding schools and orphanages to be placed with foster families. In 2010, the program was put on hold due to a lack of funding.

The Foster Care Program is being implemented with the financial support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with co-financing by UNICEF, in partnership with “Save the Children” Armenia Representative Office, “World Vision Armenia”, and “Bridge of Hope” NGO. Within the scope of the program, more than 50 families (about 70 parents) have participated in the trainings. They come from Lori, Syunik, Ararat regions and the capital Yerevan.