FAR steadfastly believes that every child deserves to grow up with the love and care of a family. Recent events and meetings hosted by experts from the FAR Children’s Center addressed recent improvements and amendments in the field of child protection, and effective parenting strategies.

On International Family Day (May 15), the Center met with a group of child protection think tanks USAID, Armenia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, UNICEF Armenia, World Vision Armenia, Save the Children, and Bridge of Hope. The meeting confirmed that the foster care family model is crucial to childcare and child protection. According to FAR Children’s Center Director Dr. Mira Antonyan, “Foster care families create a natural environment for children’s upbringing and development in an environment filled with love and safety.”

The Center has been an integral player in the Armenian government’s efforts to develop a national foster care system. The system has enabled 25 children to be in the care of loving foster families since 2006 and is currently expanding so that even more children receive placements in 2017. There are currently 89 registered foster parent candidates from the Syunik, Ararat, and Lori regions, as well as Yerevan. 73 of them have already been trained and are ready to take on guardianship and care as foster parents.

The Center also works with child protection specialists to educate them about the evolving foster care system in Armenia. “We have invited more than 2,000 field specialists from 55 communities [in Armenia] to attend our briefings and meetings on foster care procedures, developments, and amendments,” shared Dr. Antonyan during a briefing entitled, ‘A loving Family for Every Child.’ “This gives us hope that once the changes have been made, more children will be able to benefit from this alternative care service – guardianship by a foster family.”

Within the scope of FAR’s “Child Poverty Reduction Program*” in Armenia, another important day-long seminar took place in June in Masis and Artashat. The “Parenting Skills and Development” seminar was part of a regular series of trainings held by the FAR Children’s Center social workers in target communities. It emphasized the fact that both parents and children have rights, and no one is exempt from the laws and regulations. The seminar also touched on positive and negative reinforcement mechanisms necessary for raising children, particularly how to apply such reinforcement proportionally and not severely.

“I don’t like those moms who beat their kids. Whenever I misbehave, my mom deprives me of my favorite activities; cycling and computer games,” bitterly said one of the youngest children during a group discussion and added that he often got treats in form of tasty dolma and cake when he did well at school or home.

During the interactive session [discussions and hearings], parents and children were divided into groups to speak about the problems/challenges they faced at home and in society, and to suggest their local solutions. FAR Children’s Center social workers suggested that both groups shed light on issues they have encountered at home.

“I was having a hard time speaking about the problems I have at home. However, I see that we all face the same parenting issues. I would like to know others’ approaches when dealing with these issues. I’m sure that together we can find solutions,” said a beneficiary mother from Masis, hoping that more helpful meetings would still come in the future.

*The Child Poverty Reduction Program in Ararat Region is a FAR project sponsored by the Sarkessian Family Foundation.