Abstract: Child Well-Being in Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Child Well-Being in Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Sunday, January 15, 2023
South Mountain, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Aytakin Huseynli, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, all post-Soviet countries started reforming child well-being systems. Economic growth since the late 1990s has brought some improvements in child well-being on average, but it has also made inequality more visible among countries. Some of them are ahead of the reform and some countries still struggle. The purpose of the study was to study the situation of child well-being policies and services in post-Soviet countries. Six countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were selected as case studies.

Methods: The study used a cross-sectional, descriptive, and qualitative research design. In-depth interviews were conducted with 65 key informants in six post-Soviet countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.The primary data were collected by structured interviews. An interview guide with 18 questions was developed based on surveys which used to assess health care and food security systems. The data collection took place from October 2019 to March 2020. The thematic data analysis approach was used to analyze qualitative primary data. The interviews were conducted in Russian, Azerbaijani, and English. Interviews were recorded on voice recorders with original versions in voice format. All 65 interviews were transcribed by the researcher. The transcriptions were entered into the NVivo in their original languages. The quality of all interviews was controlled before entering them into the software for coding. The NVivo 20 qualitative data analysis software was used to analyze the data.

Findings: The following themes were selected for this paper: ineffective social welfare systems, unstable governments and lack of political stability, lack of financial resources, high rate of external migration, politically active citizens, strong civil society, and democracy. All countries faced ineffective social welfare system which were characterized by small benefits, aids and allowances which were not effective to help children to lead a decent life. In all six countries eligibility to benefit from allowances and services were not based on needs but on groupings of vulnerable children such as children with disabilities, children of veterans, and children from single parent families. The child well-being systems in three countries suffered from frequent changes of governance due to democratic elections: reforms were not completed by elected new governments. In other three countries which were not democratic, the child well-being was suffered from less attention by political and economic elites. Furthermore, according to the study civil society, political active citizens and political determination of policy makers were strong determinants of successful child well-being systems in all six countries.

Conclusion: The study has research, policy, and practice implications. First the research implication of the study is to contribute to the growing but limited literature on child well-being in post-Soviet countries. The policy implication of this study is to help understanding of dynamics of reforms in post-Soviet countries and factors that affect reforms in these countries. The practice implication is to contribute to knowledge of practitioners in the USA and in other Western countries who work with children and families that immigrated from post-Soviet countries.