ryazan baby home
Ryazan Baby Home
Ryazan is a large town with a population of 500,000, 180 km south east of Moscow. The town has one Baby Home. The 150 children at this Baby Home are fortunate in that it has always been run by a Director committed to improving the lives of the children with disabilities. Portage is now well established in the Baby Home and is an independently run service within the home.
This is thanks to the wholehearted support of its Director back in 2003 when Sarah first introduced the idea. In 2007, when Portage was well established, Tatiana Alexandrovna Gross said:
“Portage radically changed the work of the Baby Home. Today I can’t imagine our future life and development without using this programme”
A team of up to 11 Portage workers care for the 40+ disabled children. Disabilities are varied and include Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome but there is no disability that prevents a child benefiting from Portage. Children can reap the benefits as soon as they arrive in the home as they are immediately included in the Portage programme. The children live in family groups of around 10 children of a similar age. Many of the Portage workers are also Care workers in the orphanage and where possible, Portage workers work with children from their own group. This allows skills worked on in their daily Portage sessions to be continued in the child’s group area and makes for a more realistic practise of self-help skills.
One measure of success is where the children go on leaving the Baby Home. In 2009, five children were adopted either overseas or within Russia and two returned to live with their families. Adoption of a disabled child within Russia is rare, one of the main reasons being that the state provides no support for the families of disabled children. The fact children are being adopted in-country shows just how much they are progressing and developing with the help of Portage. Adoption is the ideal outcome, but for those who are not adopted there are four other options. Penza is an orphanage for the physically disabled where they get an education. Children with mental and physical disabilities but who are mobile go to Yelatma Correctional Home where they will also get an education. Whereas in the past few disabled children from the baby home would go there, all Downs Syndrome children now go to the Correctional Home along with children with other disabilities. Eight children moved there in 2009. No children moved to Yelatma Closed Orphanage, which is for children who have severe mental and physical disabilities and tend not to be mobile. Girls with special needs may go to a convent where they can remain for the rest of their lives if they so wish.