In 2006, the Keystone Foundation for Social Assistance to Children and Families partnered with Keystone Service Systems, Inc. to launch a two-year family services project in the North Caucasus region of Russia. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Comprehensive Systems of Care for Children and Youth in the North Caucasus project works to promote integrative and effective institutional care and child welfare services for vulnerable children, youth and families in the North Caucasus.

A foundational component of Keystone's philosophy of community-based human services, the comprehensive system of care is a broad, integrated and inclusive approach to the services and supports individuals may need to live full and healthy lives. Incorporating social, educational, psychological and developmental support, the comprehensive system of care model provides a framework for Keystone Human Services International's Children and Family Centers, the bases of operations for our services in Moldova.

After a national tragedy struck the southeastern Russian town of Beslan in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, Keystone dispatched a team of specialists to aid our Russian colleagues in postvention efforts. (Click here for more information on Beslan.) Through these efforts, we began to learn of the political and social climate of this region, the North Caucasus, and how it dramatically impacts the lives of children. Connecting with Russian professionals in Beslan and Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia-Alania, Keystone developed a plan of action to establish a support center for children and families in this area of need that could be replicated throughout the North Caucasus region.

Map of Russia, Georgia, and Ossetia

The Comprehensive Systems of Care for Children and Youth in the North Caucasus program supports two Children and Family Centers: one in North Ossetia-Alania and one in Kabardino-Balkaria, another Russian republic where political, religious and social instability impede the strength, independence, community presence and capacity of individuals.

The North Caucasus programs are child-centered, family-driven, strength-based, culturally competent and supportive of interagency collaboration. To design the most effective comprehensive systems of care in these communities, we have identified four key goals: to address the immediate psychological, educational and health-related needs of vulnerable children, to increase the professional capacity of the individuals serving these families, to foster community development and citizen participation through involvement in program governance, and to initiate and maintain a comprehensive project monitoring and performance measurement strategy.

These goals have been manifested in a wide spectrum of services: among the programs launched in North Ossetia-Alania and Kabardino-Balkaria are postvention rehabilitation services, creative rehabilitation methods such as hippo therapy, art therapy, relaxation therapy and dance therapy, parent effectiveness training, health assessments and family education, daycare facilities and respite care for working parents, and home visits for families in rural regions.

To promote the highest standards of care and support within the Children and Family Centers, the Comprehensive Systems of Care project also coordinates social work education and training, fundraising consultation and training, rest and support for medical and psychological specialists, special education training, technological support, and community awareness.