“It’s good that there is a relative who needs us.” The story of a family-type orphanage that was forced to move from Kharkiv Oblast

“It’s good that there is a relative who needs us.”  The story of a family-type orphanage that was forced to move from Kharkiv Oblast


The Kutuzov family is raising six adopted children: five-year-old Isabella, seven-year-old Vladyslav, ten-year-old Roman, 11-year-old Veronika, and 18-year-old Victoria and Khrystyna.

Family-type orphanage (abbreviated – DBST) because of the war, he was forced to move from Kharkiv Oblast to the village of Chabanivka, located near Uzhhorod.

It was there that social work specialist Olga Flenko began working with the family on a case management model to provide comprehensive, personalized assistance.

She is one of 25 social work specialists who work in the Lviv and Zakarpattia regions according to the model of case management within the framework of comprehensive social support with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

social work specialist Olga Flenko, 38 years old, together with Natalya and Leonid Kutuzova and their pupils in the village of Chabanivka, Transcarpathian region

What does the case management model involve?

Case management is a way of organizing the provision of social services that allows for the assessment of the needs of a family that is potentially in need of assistance.

A social work specialist who is responsible for such a family involves specialists and family members directly, organizes and coordinates the process of providing social services, evaluates their effectiveness to help overcome difficult life circumstances.

It is important that case management does not involve solving problems instead of the family, but encourages “forming a request” for assistance in case of problems or difficulties.

In order to get advice on escortingthe family should contact the center for the provision of social services, the center for the provision of administrative services, the center for social protection of the population and the service for children at the place of residence.

“We are always together, because we are a family”

“I’m Bella!” – the smallest pet, five-year-old Isabella, runs out first to say hello. Despite her health issues, the girl already attends kindergarten, to which experienced teachers help her adapt.

“Setting Isabella up in kindergarten so that she was provided with the service of a child assistant and proper attention is one of the successes we achieved while accompanying this family.” – says social work specialist Olga Flenko.

“Mom, I love you!” – says Isabella and rushes to Natalya’s mother-educator. Everyone goes together to the living room to have tea. The house is warm and twinkling lights of garlands on the Christmas tree and windows.

Nataliya Kutuzova, who became an internally displaced person for the second time since 2014, admits that fear for her children pushed her to make the decision to move.

“The explosions were so loud that our walls on the fourth floor shook. The war has driven us out of the house twice already.” – she remembers.

The first adopted child of the Kutuzos, who at that time had a biological son and daughter, appeared in 2014. And in 2017, when the older children “flew out of the nest”, they took three of them at once – Veronika and her brothers Vladyslav and Roman.

Later, an almost adult Khrystyna, who lost her mother, joined the family. And after the start of a full-scale war, they accepted Victoria and Isabella from the disbanded boarding school. In this composition, the family came to Transcarpathia.

Izabella Komarevtseva, 5 years old, was forced to move from the Kharkiv region to the village of Chabanivka, Zakarpattia region, together with the family-type house of the Kutuzov family, in which she was raised, due to a full-scale invasion

Each case is special

The advantage of the case management model in social work is an individual approach, that is, the study of his specific life situation. This is a format of social support designed to support vulnerable families and children who find themselves in difficult life circumstances, not according to a template and not for the sake of a tick, but to help in a personalized way with solving the real needs of the family, carefully identifying them and responding to changes.

Specialist in social work Olha Flenko says:

“We have been working since August 2023. This is one of my first experiences of interacting with a large family. I understood: even in such a prosperous family – mom is open, dad is serious, children are friendly – there are many needs: starting with a lawyer for the eldest daughter, who has there is an ongoing dispute with the biological father over the apartment inherited from the mother, and ending with a doctor for the youngest, who discovered hidden diseases that neither the family doctor nor the mother encountered.”

According to Olga, thanks to complex team work on the case, it is possible to solve all these problematic issues step by step.

Specialist in social work Olha Flenko, 38 years old

Start with a clean slate

Despite the fact that social support in this case is primarily work with children, the condition of the mother-educator, her psychological balance, of course, affect the climate in the family. After all, this is reflected in how the children will be cared for, gifted with warmth and, ultimately, happy.

“We came with one bag and started with a clean slate: financial difficulties, health problems, education… And since we have children with special needs, it’s even more difficult, – admits mother-educator Nataliya. – Olga became our home sunshine. She often calls just to ask “How are you?”. It makes me happy that there is a loved one who needs us. And we are invited to master classes, and to training for mothers-educators, which inspired me a lot. But the main thing is sincere concern.”

“I consider the greatest success of our support to be the strengthening of the bond between mother and children. We also managed to resolve legal issues and issue assistance, to arrange children for school and kindergarten, – says Olga. – I really want this family to do well, because the foster parents really care about each child as if it were their own.”

Together with Isabella, Vladyslav, Roman, Veronika, Victoria and Khrystyna, UNICEF’s comprehensive social support covers about 4,000 children within the framework of the project, which is implemented with the support of the USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). The goal of the project is more opportunities for education and development, more security and peace, more joy.

The author is Alla Khayatova, the producer is Nastya Kanaryova, especially for UP. Life



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