Moldovan Government Takes Historic Step to Move People with Disabilities Out of Institutions

Regulation HG 351 Will Redirect Financial Resources to Community-Based Care and Services

CHISINAU—The Open Society Foundations today welcomed a new regulation approved by the Moldovan government that will reform the system of care for children and adults with disabilities.  Regulation HG 351, jointly approved on June 8 by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Family, will redirect financial resources from long-stay institutions towards community-based programs and services.

Welcoming this crucial step forward, Judith Klein, Director of the Open Society Mental Health Initiative, stated, “Regulation 351 proves the Moldovan government’s political commitment to promote the right of people who are currently institutionalized to live in inclusive communities as equal citizens with respect, dignity, access to mainstream services, and choice about how they live their lives. It is truly commendable that the government of Moldova has made such a steadfast commitment to deinstitutionalization given the challenging economic context. Other countries in the region must learn from the example set by Moldova.”

Approval of Regulation HG 351 would not have been possible without years of advocacy by civil society organizations in this field.

Poverty and a lack of support in local communities are the primary factors that cause families to abandon children or place them in long-stay institutions. According to a 2005 UNICEF study, every day one child under the age of seven is abandoned in Moldova. Disturbingly, nine out of ten of these children who are abandoned in healthcare facilities and residential institutions are not orphans but have living parents. Comparative data from the Ministries of Education and Labor, Social Protection and Family indicate that amongst children with disabilities only an estimated 10-12 percent are provided with any services whether in institutions or in the community, and the vast majority of children do not receive any type of service.  Given this stark reality, the Moldovan government has, over the past few years, made systematic attempts to transition from institutions to community-based care by focusing on expanding various social services and educational support.

Regulation HG 351 will prevent new people from being institutionalized and will allow for people currently living in institutions to be relocated to the community. A noteworthy feature of the regulation is the prioritization of individualized care and support. It will provide financial support for various types of housing arrangements (depending on the person’s circumstance and choice) including reintegration with the family, foster care, supported living, and community homes. Additionally the regulation will provide for services like personal assistants, mobile teams, family support centers, and educational support services. The finances that were formally invested in operating and maintaining institutions will now be redirected to a range of community-based options. The funding, calculated on a per capita basis depending on an individual’s needs, will be channeled from the central government to the local level where the person will live.

“The government’s commitment to reform services for people with disabilities and to provide comprehensive community-based care to replace institutionalization is really progressive and unique in this region,” said Klein. “It will be important in future that the Moldovan government maintains this strategic priority and directs its own available resources as well as resources provided by donors to this crucial reform.”