ASI offers to institutionalize the social coordinator role in Russia

This new form of support presupposes providing comprehensive assistance for families in a vulnerable position, using NPO and charity resources, in addition to the government-provided methods. Together with True Direction charity service, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) is prepared to test that model in a number of regions, in order to subsequently launch it in the entire country, said Svetlana Chupsheva, ASI Director General, at a meeting of the Expert Council task group for social projects.

“The social, or family curator institution has been in use in some countries abroad for a long time. That enables them to get feedback on the system’s functioning, see the gaps and organize the support measures around a person. It’s important that social coordinators consolidate all resources, both government and private, to serve a specific family,” Svetlana Chupshina noted.

The example she provided was a family with a severely disabled child. “The issue lies not only and not so much in providing the child with a wheelchair or other rehabilitation devices, but in providing more comprehensive support for such families: finding jobs for parents, ensuring psychological help and rehabilitation, supplying drugs,” ASI Director General emphasized.

According to her, the Agency is ready to pilot-test a service like that in some select regions, taking into account the locals’ needs and the problems they encounter, in order to later establish a federal coordinator model and expand the method to the entire country. That work will be a part of the National Social Initiative the main goal of which is to improve the populace’s satisfaction with social services, to create opportunities and conditions that would improve the quality of life for every Russian citizen.

In the pilot regions, those measures will be taken in collaboration with True Direction charity that has some experience in coordinating various resources when helping families with severely disabled children. People from True Direction find the treatment options funded by the government, charity funds or large companies, help parents submit the required paperwork and support families all the way until they get the help they were promised. True Direction has already helped 415 such families.

One of those is the family of 8 y.o Omar from the Kamchatka Territory. The boy is autistic. As Omar got older, his condition deteriorated, with symptoms worsening and his behavior becoming more erratic. He had to be hospitalized to a specialized facility where they could find the best treatment for him.

“With our help, the Absolute Help fund paid for a stay in E. Sukhareva Children’s Psychiatric Clinic. Thanks to our cooperation with the Healthcare Ministry of Kamchatka territory, they were able to do preliminary tests and provide free air tickets to Moscow and back for Omar and his mother,” Anton Yaremchuk said.

Thee years old Eva from the Krasnodar Territory, who suffered from multiple inborn deformities, was also provided with comprehensive assistance. The girl needed genetic testing and advice from a number of specialist doctors in H. Turner National Medical Research Center for Сhildren's Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery (Moscow). True Direction ensured that the consultations would be free of charge. However, Eva’s parents couldn’t handle the travel costs. People from True Direction helped them pay for the tickets and accommodation through Blue Bird charity fund. Charities are also supposed to pay for genetic testing that is outside the mandatory medical insurance system at the moment, and therefore, not funded by the government.

“Right now, we’re already helping parents solve a broader range of issues not related to medical help. We consolidate data on various healthcare social security system components’ operation. That data will help us develop proposals on how to make large scale improvements to better the lives of our compatriots,” Anton Yaremchuk, True Direction Director General, said.

He added that his organization is currently working with over 120 charities around Russia, and has agreements signed with 37 regions where they have built the closest cooperation with healthcare ministries, non-profit and healthcare organizations in order to provide children with the help they need faster. They plan to sign similar agreements with other regions in 2022.