The process of deinstitutionalisation depends upon changes in attitude and approach on the part of thousands of key individuals, from policy makers at the international level, to the carers who work directly with children. This requires a significant investment in awareness raising, training and workforce development.
Since we began our work five years ago, Lumos has trained more than 9,000 policy-makers, service managers and professionals on a whole range of topics. this training has been vital to ensuring real and lasting change takes place for children at the local level. Programmes of training range from developing strategic plans for complete deinstitutionalisation, to specialised methods of direct work with children who have extremely complex needs. Lumos' own local and international experts, together with external, highly specialised consultants, design and deliver programmes of professional development tailored to the specific local need. A few examples follow.
THE TEN ELEMENTS OF DEINSTITUTIONALISATION
This Lumos' training course has been developed based on experience of transforming systems across 18 countries. It provides participants with the opportunity to put into practice tools for the planning and management of all aspects of the reform. Trainees learn how to develop a comprehensive Communications Strategy, how to design the services needed to replace the institutions and assess the financing and resource needs for the new services. By the end of the three-day course, they have learned to draw up a workforce development strategy, as well as how to assess the needs of individual children and prepare them to move out of the institution and into a family. At the beginning of the course, we often find that a significant number of participants are sceptical about or resistant to deinstitutionalisation. By the end, most feel confident that they can manage and implement the process. One senior academic who advises the Bulgarian government said "The training was so comprehensive and yet practical. It breaks down a highly complex process into achievable steps that can be implemented. I have much more confidence now that the reform process can be implemented properly in my country".
TRAINING FOR EC DESK OFFICERS AND MANAGERS ON DEINSTITUTIONALISATION
Together with other members of the European Expert Group, Lumos has delivered a series of training programmes to managers and officers at the European Commission responsible for funding the reform of health, education and social services, both within the European Union and further afield. These training programmes have been welcomed by Commission officials and have influenced changes in draft regulations regarding future funding. In addition, some desk officers have used the training to influence change and encourage deinstitutionalisation in the countries for which they are responsible.
TRAINING ON FOSTER CARE
Lumos has engaged the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) to provide training in the Czech Republic for local practitioners, service providers and policy makers. This training has been instrumental in influencing the direction of the new legislation, aimed at reducing numbers of children in institutions, increasing the use of foster care and supporting vulnerable families to care for their own children.
TRAINING ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
In the Republic of Moldova, the success of the deinstitutionalisation process depends heavily on the introduction of inclusive education. In a relatively short space of time, with Lumos' help, inclusive education has been introduced successfully across the country. Prior to the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream schools, our local experts trained 3,200 teachers, school principals and managers of education departments.
TRAINING ON EATING AND DRINKING DIFFICULTIES
In Bulgaria, after assisting the government to assess the needs of more than 1,800 children with disabilities in institutions, it was discovered that more than 250 of these children were severely malnourished. The problem was not lack of food, but rather lack of time. These were predominantly children with eating and drinking difficulties who need a lot of support to ensure they get proper nutrition. But in many institutions, insufficient staffing and different priorities meant that very little time was given to feeding children. At the urgent request of the government, Lumos provided a specialist to train local institution personnel and other therapists and professionals, on different methods to support these children. Within months, mortality rates were reducing and children were gaining weight and developing new skills. Personnel caring for the children responded positively to these changes and began to enjoy their work with the children a great deal more.