This book provides new and empirically grounded research-based knowledge and insights into the current transformation of the Russian child welfare system. It focuses on the major shift in Russia’s child welfare policy: deinstitutionalisation of the system of children’s homes inherited from the Soviet era and an increase in fostering and adoption.

Divided into four sections, this book details both the changing role and function of residential institutions within the Russian child welfare system and the rapidly developing form of alternative care in foster families, as well as work undertaken with birth families. By analysing the consequences of deinstitutionalisation and its effects on children and young people as well as their foster and birth parents, it provides a model for understanding this process across the whole of the post-Soviet space.

It will be of interest to academics and students of social work, sociology, child welfare, social policy, political science, and Russian and East European politics more generally.

part Part I|19 pages


chapter 1|17 pages


Russian child welfare reform and institutional change
ByMeri Kulmala, Maija Jäppinen, Anna Tarasenko, Anna Pivovarova

part Part II|47 pages

Changing numbers, shifting discourses

chapter 2|24 pages

Statistics on the deinstitutionalisation of child welfare in Russia

BySvetlana Biryukova, Alla Makarentseva

chapter 3|21 pages

The ‘last-minute children’

Where did they come from, where will they go? Media portrayals of children deprived of parental care, 2006–2018
ByElena Iarskaia-Smirnova, Olga Kosova, Rostislav Kononenko

part Part III|72 pages

Transforming institutions

chapter 4|24 pages

The ideal (re)organisation of care

Child welfare reform as a battlefield over resources and recognition
ByMeri Kulmala, Larisa Shpakovskaya, Zhanna Chernova

chapter 5|23 pages

Institutional variety rather than the end of residential care

Regional responses to deinstitutionalisation reforms in Russia
ByAnna Tarasenko

chapter 6|23 pages

‘One has to stop chasing numbers!’

The unintended consequences of Russian child welfare reforms
ByMaija Jäppinen, Meri Kulmala

part Part IV|38 pages

Foster and birth families under institutional change

chapter 7|18 pages

‘Making’ a family

The motives and practices of foster parenting
ByZhanna Chernova, Larisa Shpakovskaya

chapter 8|18 pages

No longer parents or parents in need of support?

Views of child welfare experts on birth parents
ByMaija Jäppinen

part Part V|42 pages

Children in care

chapter 9|17 pages

The successful transition to foster care

The child’s perspective
ByLarisa Shpakovskaya, Zhanna Chernova

chapter 10|23 pages

Young adults leaving care

Agency and educational choice
ByMeri Kulmala, Zhanna Chernova, Anna Fomina

part Part VI|10 pages


chapter 11|8 pages

In conclusion

The fragmented implementation of the new child welfare policy
ByMeri Kulmala, Maija Jäppinen, Anna Tarasenko, Anna Pivovarova