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Keystone Human Services International Partners to Support Moldova in Moving to Protect the Rights of People with Disabilities

June 2, 2008

(Harrisburg, PA) – The government of the Republic of Moldova recently joined with mental health and child advocates to pave the way to end an era of isolating children and adults with mental disabilities in institutions.

The "Memorandum of Understanding for Deinstitutionalization and Community Living for People with Mental Disabilities" was signed on May 27, 2008 by the Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child; the Open Society Mental Health Initiative; Soros Foundation - Moldova; Hope and Homes for Children; and Keystone Human Services International. By signing the memorandum, the Ministry and these four nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) committed to a four-year collaboration dedicated to ending further institutionalization of children with mental disabilities and establishing models for community-based services that will replace institutions in the long run.

This initiative, which builds on local and international expertise and resources, focuses on the relocation of residents from the Home for Boys with Disabilities in Orhei, Moldova into family-type living arrangements in the community, as well as the development of a wide range of comprehensive support services to assure their health, welfare, and successful integration into society. Included in this effort are the establishment of mechanisms for quality assurance and monitoring, and the financial and operational frameworks needed to sustain these changes in the future.

"We are honored to be part of such an important initiative focused on creating a future of societal integration for children and adults with disabilities in Moldova," said Dennis Felty, President of Keystone Human Services. "In 2000, we had an opportunity to visit the institution at Orhei for the first time. Keystone made a long-term commitment to provide services and supports for vulnerable children and families and people with disabilities in Moldova in June 2004 when we registered our Moldovan NGO, KHSI Moldova Association. Now, eight and a half years after that first visit to Orhei, we are thrilled to be working with such world renowned partners to support these children and young adults effectively in the community and to prevent future generations of children from being isolated due to their disabilities."

Moldova, which has a large number of people with disabilities in residential institutions and a lack of alternative services, recently signed the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities. The partnership established by the above mentioned Memorandum of Understanding will assist Moldova in making the provisions of the UN Convention a reality. "This project is the materialization in practice of Moldova's policies regarding people with disabilities. The project will enable people with disabilities to lead meaningful lives close to their families, friends and colleagues, and puts Moldova in a position to prepare for ratification of the Convention", said Galina Balmos, Minister of Social Protection, Family and Child.

Director of the Open Society Mental Health Initiative, Judith Klein, pointed out, "People with mental disabilities across Central and Eastern Europe are faced with stigma and discrimination which prevent them and their families from participating in society as equal citizens. We hope the example of Moldova will spur other governments to stop locking people away in large institutions and ensure their access to services at all levels in the community."

The Soros Foundation - Moldova has been supporting the development of social inclusion community-based services for people (both children and adults) with mental disabilities for the last 8 years. Executive Director of the Soros Foundation – Moldova, Victor Ursu, said, "This partnership is a big opportunity to bring together the efforts of international organizations and the Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child for improving the quality of life for people with mental disabilities who are currently residing in long stay residential institutions in Moldova. This initiative will establish a model for developing sustainable, cost-effective community-based services."

Keystone Human Services International is an agency of Keystone Human Services which has served for more than 35 years as a "change agent" in the US improving the lives of individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities, and those experiencing mental illness. We have been involved in several institutional closings in the US. Most recently we were a leading force in closing the Harrisburg State Hospital which housed nearly 3500 adults at one point.

To support the work of Keystone Human Services International or for more information, visit or contact Charles Hooker at +1-717-232-7509 or chooker @

About the Partners

The Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child has the mandate to guarantee the realization of the provisions in the Constitution regarding the development, promotion and implementation of state policies of social protection, family and child in order to ensure the social security and increased living standards of the population.

Contact: Lucia Gavrilita,, +373-22-737572

The Open Society Mental Health Initiative (MHI) aims to ensure that people with mental disabilities (mental health problems and/or intellectual disabilities) are able to live in the community and to participate in society with full respect for their human rights. MHI is part of the Open Society Institute's Public Health Program and works in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (CEE/fSU).

Contact: Judith Klein,, +36-1-327-3831

The Soros Foundation - Moldova (SFM) is a non-governmental, non-for-profit and non-political organization established in 1992 by the financier and the philanthropist George Soros to promote the development of an open society in Moldova through the implementation of a range of programs and activities that address specific areas of needs including media, cultural policy, legal reform, public administration, good governance, media, civil society, public health, and European integration.

Contact: Liliana Gherman,, +373-22-270031

Hope and Homes for Children UK is a registered charity working in Central and Eastern Europe and Africa to give hope to the poorest children in the world - those who are orphaned, abandoned or vulnerable - by enabling them to grow up within the love of a family and the security of a home, so that they can fulfill their potential.

Contact: Amelia Austin +44 1722-790111

Keystone Human Services International USA (KHSI) is a family of non-profit, non-governmental organizations working to create environments where all people can grow, exercise self-determination, and be participating, contributing and valued members of their communities. Through subsidiaries in Eastern Europe, including Moldova, KHSI advances the independence of people in vulnerable situations due to disability, institutionalization, poverty, abandonment and exploitation.

Contact: Charles Hooker, chooker @, +1-717-232-7509

Additional Resources

Ministry of Social Protection Family and Child Open Society Institute Mental Health Initiative Hope and Homes for Children Keystone Human Services The Soros Foundation - Moldova
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