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Keystone Human Services International Comprehensive Systems of Care for Children and Youth in the North Caucasus

Toolkit and Resource Guide: Background Information

The USAID-funded Comprehensive Systems of Care (CSOC) project began on June 29, 2006 and ran through December 31, 2008. This project, implemented by Keystone in the North Caucasus, provided a series of targeted facility-, home- and community-based services to address the needs of children and families with disabilities in North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria Republics. These programs were developed around the principles of being child-centered, family-driven, strength-based, culturally competent and collaborative between agencies. With input from local Program staff, regional partners, a Council of Advisors and a Community Council Steering Committee, Keystone worked to assure that services provided followed each of these principles, as well as focused on the family’s capacity to remain intact. The project targeted, but was not limited to, the following at-risk groups: children, youth, and families affected by violent trauma; children and youth with disabilities; children at risk of institutionalization; families at risk of dissolution; and children with special needs.

Keystone’s development of the CSOC Project was based on the self-identified need of current residents and professionals living in North Ossetia. Critical to our analysis of the need and our rationale for this approach was the input of Elena Ryzhova, a psychiatrist, and resident of North Ossetia. Ms. Ryzhova was one of the participants in Keystone’s International Internship Program funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Program. During her three-month internship with Keystone, Ms. Ryzhova developed a compelling proposal for a children and families center in North Ossetia. Her work became the basis of Keystone’s successful grant proposal to USAID. From a cultural competence perspective, this synthesis of international and Russian experiences, developed from a grass-roots perspective to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable citizens in the North Caucasus, was a strong foundation on which to build a successful and appropriate program for this community.

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