Charles Hooker (CEO of Keystone Human Services International (KHSI), USA and Dennis Felty (President of Keystone Human Services ( KHS) , USA) visited Moldova several times at the initiative of Janice Wenger. They visited different institutions, families, established connections with NGOs and colleges. These visits helped them understand the needs of persons with disabilities and other the vulnerable families from Moldova. Based on an agreement with a local college, social work students were invited for internships in KHS services.
The Community Center “Unitate” from Tudora village, Stefan Voda rayon was started by an alumni of the internship program, with the support of KHSI. Liliana Malancea was impressed with the Head Start services that provided social and educational support for children from vulnerable families in USA. She decided that her native community, Tudora, needs such a service. Liliana developed a business plan and presented it to KHSI Board of Directors. She got the funding that allowed her to buy an old house and the necessary funding to run the activities with the children. The center facility was adapted to provide all the services and to prepare and serve the meals. The center was called “Unitate” and had the goal to provide afterschool daily support to 25 children of age 8 to 12 and 15 children once a week as part of the youth club. The group of specialists developed the programs based on the needs of the children: social and educational support, psychologic counseling, art and vocational activities, hygiene services and meals. The children attending the center showed better school results, became more sociable and had increased self-esteem. In 2013 based on an agreement with the local authorities, the center was moved to the local school and continues to provide the services in a larger space. The old house was transformed into a multifunctional museum “La Bunici” (At the Grandparents). Within the museum the children can learn interesting facts about Tudora village history and can learn how to make traditional crafts using the pottery wheel, can weave traditional rugs, etc. Starting with 2003 up to the present the center and the museum is financed by KHS, USA.
Keystone Moldova was officially registered at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Moldova. The administrative office was established in Chisinau. All the legal procedures were put in place to run the organization.
The Community Center “Vis” from Bacioi village (Chisinau municipality). The Bacioi center was established through a grant offered by the European Commission and co-financed by KHSI in partnership with Bacioi Local Authorities. The center was developed within the local primary school. The center was called “Vis” and had the goal to provide afterschool daily support to 25 children of age 8 to 12 and 15 children once a week as part of the youth club. The group of specialists developed the programs based on the needs of the children: social and educational support, psychologic counseling, art and vocational activities, computer classes, hygiene services and meals. The specialists were also providing home visits to the children with disabilities who couldn’t come to the center. The staff were actively involved in different fundraising activities with the aim to support the poor families. The children attending the center showed better school results, became more sociable and had increased self-esteem.
Establishment and implementation of Community for All Moldova Program (C4A-Moldova) jointly with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection. Some results of the implementation of C4A-Moldova Program see below:
Deinstitutionalization and social inclusion of children and adults with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities.
The primary aim of the C4A Moldova Program was to support reform of the system of care and social protection for persons with mental disabilities, including children, in the Republic of Moldova to improve their social inclusion in the community. Keystone Moldova was advancing this goal by working to improve the legal frameworks and regulations in the field of social protection and assistance of persons with disabilities, and by piloting new community based services that meet the varying needs of children with intellectual disabilities, people with mental health and their families/caregivers. Keystone Moldova has been actively involved in the development of social inclusion public policies: Law on social inclusion ; Regulations and Quality Standards of seven newly developed types of community based social services; Funding reallocation and residential institutions evaluation methodologies; National strategies on social inclusion (2009-2013 and 2017-2021) National Program on deinstitutionalization (2018-2022); new disability determination mechanism; mechanisms for preventing the institutionalization; approval of minimum package of social care services; in-depth evaluation and development of transformation plans for 6 residential institutions for persons with intellectual and psiho-social disabilities, including two for children with severe disabilities. With the support of various donors (Open Society Foundations, Soros Foundation Moldova, and European Commission) Keystone Moldova developed 101 community-based services: Community Homes, Supported Living, Mobile Teams, Foster Care, Respite Service, Shared Living Services, Day Care services for vulnerable children, Personal assistant service, foster care for children with severe disabilities etc. All the services are financed from the state budget. Also, Keystone Moldova provided support on the development of 14 community housing services from the state budget based on Keystone models. As a result of abovementioned 300 persons, including children, moved from institutions to community living, over 650 children with severe disabilities are benefitting annually of Mobile Teams services and over 2000 children and adults with severe disabilities are benefitting annually of personal assistant services. Over 3500 public authorities’ representatives and service, staff were capacitated in deinstitutionalization and social inclusion. More than 130 NGOs have been capacitated in project development and management.
Promotion and implementation of inclusive education of children with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Jointly with other NGOs, Keystone Moldova supported the Ministry of Education to develop the methodology for inclusive education that was extended nationwide. With the support of Open Society Foundations/ Early Childhood Program, Keystone Moldova implemented inclusive education in 37 educational settings and supported the inclusive education of more than 300 children with disabilities and special educational needs. Keystone Moldova also supported the development of more than 80 educational support services, including 37 multidisciplinary commissions, 22 resource centers, 25 support teachers. More than 700 teachers, support services staff and 1200 parents have been capacitated in inclusive education.
Fighting discrimination and increasing the awareness and promotion of social inclusion of persons with mental disabilities.
In this respect 4 media communication campaigns were organized, numerous printed materials for general public and specialists were developed and distributed, over 150 Forum Theatre performances in schools with the involvement of over 15000 children, teachers and parents were delivered. Journalists and journalism students were capacitated in the correct and nondiscriminatory way of communication with and about the persons with disabilities.
Empowering persons with disabilities to fight for their rights.
26 self-advocacy groups and advocacy groups were developed and capacitated. Also, over 2200 persons from the residential institutions increased their knowledge on human rights. Persons that left the institutions previously are acting as coaches and help their peers from to integrate in the society. A hotline service was developed for reporting the abuses on persons with disabilities, including children. Persons from the institution and communities have the possibility to get free specialized support or report the violations of their rights. The hotline receive over 1600 calls a year (2/3 are from the persons from the institutions). EU, IM Swedish Development Partner and Keystone Human Services International supported these activities.
Economic empowerment of persons with disabilities.
Keystone Moldova is working on the economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities by helping them to enter the open labor market, support them and their families to start a small business and by developing social economy activities. In this regards two small social activities were developed: EcoVox and Training Center. EcoVox is a workshop that employs persons with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to sew bags that are personalized and sold. Keystone Training Center is a training/conference space that is adapted for wheelchair users and are rented for various events. All the profit from these social economy activities is used for the support of deinstitutionalized persons. East Europe Foundation, Open Society Foundations and KHSI supported these activities.
Provision of international expertise.
Keystone Moldova provided consultancy for UNICEF Kazakhstan and Ministry of Health and Social Development of Kazakhstan on developing the road map on deinstitutionalization and social inclusion of children from 0 to 3 and children with disabilities, as well as study visits and training for Azerbaijan CSOs, Romania CSOs , Hans Foundation, India CSOs and CSOs members of EASPD on social inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities and on social role valorization.