Keystone Human Services commits to work toward deinstitutionalization and the prevention of institutionalization of girls and women living with disabilities in the US (Pennsylvania) and Eastern Europe, in support of the ultimate abolishment of these human storage facilities. Social and financial inclusion, for women with disabilities and for women who are caregivers of children with disabilities, is the major pathway to the achievement of this goal.
Through this CGI Commitment to Action, Keystone will advance two programs to address the overall need for social and financial inclusion for women and girls living with disabilities in Eastern Europe and in the United States. The first program will advance an inclusive workforce model that will promote the full and equal human rights of women with disabilities and women who are caregivers of children with disabilities. The second program will help girls and young women with disabilities living in Pennsylvania, Moldova, and Russia to move out of state institutions (or to avoid moving into them in the first place) so they may live and thrive in the community through the support of family, education, employment, support teams, and the community at large.
Under Keystone's first program, 30-50 female caregivers of children with disabilities and 20 women with disabilities will be supported through enterprising opportunities for women-led businesses. Promoting and demonstrating sustainable ways to support the rights of women with disabilities will be accomplished through improved access to employment, education, and participation in vocational training, to include the promotion of women's equal rights to full employment and fair pay. Female caregivers of children with disabilities will also be supported to combat the discrimination and care strain they may experience; forces that can cause them to withdraw from the labor force and from their community. An indirect advocacy element is anticipated in the beneficiaries' communities, as the family is also supported to encourage meaningful community inclusion of their family member with disabilities. The goal will be to create a strategy and family oriented services model that effectively reduces obstacles to labor inclusion for women with disabilities and women caregivers of children with disabilities. This program will be designed in a demonstration model format to promote education and replication of successful methods.
Through the development of small community homes, utilization of foster care models, family support and preservation services, school inclusion, and employment supports, Keystone Human Services will also help 10-15 girls and young women in Moldova and Pennsylvania to escape institutionalization. To overcome the challenges of discrimination and limited services, Keystone's commitment will promote a stronger system of affordable, sustainable, local services for women and girls with disabilities and their families.
Keystone brings with it the experience of more than four decades supporting the community inclusion of people with disabilities. The expertise the organization brings to this effort will have a significant and lasting impact on the improvement of the technical capacities of engaged government partners and other key stakeholders, by promoting sustainable development of locally governed disability services and by advancing the equal rights of all people to participate fully in life.
Over the three years of implementation, six (6) women with intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania will each be supported to live an inclusive (non-institutional) life in the community of her choice through an innovative model of service provision which offers special promise for addressing the complex needs of people with intellectual disabilities. Through careful integration of services, organized to meet each individual's needs, this effort will provide sophisticated support essential to long-term effectiveness and enhanced welfare for the women served. This integration will span a broad spectrum of services that will, depending on the needs of the individuals, encompass home support, residential assistance, family living, physical therapy, community participation, vocational and employment services, habilitation assistance, and crisis management.
As efforts are expanded to include additional women in Moldova and throughout Eastern Europe, engagement will begin with initial assessments with each woman (for example, conducted with the women and girls at the Hincesti institution) as well with as their biological families, and communities to which they would return. Program participants will be identified, as will the Local Public Authorities (LPAs) to be engaged as partners. If Community Home Services are determined to be necessary options for the community integration of some of the identified participants, and if appropriate funding is secured, the identification, evaluation, and procurement of community homes will also commence during the first year. Anti-discrimination media strategy will also be expanded to new communities. Deliverables: Initial evaluation reports; Partnership/Collaboration Contracts signed with participating LPAs; Agreements signed with families; Community Homes procured (if indicated).
During the subsequent program years, training and technical assistance will be provided to the LPAs and the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Families. Financial and therapeutic support will be provided to program participants during the transition period from the institution to reintegration with biological families and new community based services. Person-centered, individualized plans will be developed to guide the ongoing support of all program participants, and a range of targeted specialized services will be provided to support their full community inclusion. Community homes, once procured, will be renovated, equipped, and staffed. Staff will be trained and monitored by Keystone. Based on Keystone's proven model in the Community for All - Moldova program, and as will be specified in signed collaboration contracts, operational costs for community homes will be provided for a brief designated time (approximately one year) to allow LPAs preparation time for including the new services in their annual budgets. Deliverables: Quarterly progress reports; Newly developed services; Three self-documented video success stories.
For the inclusive employment model, there are two major directions of implementation.
Direction I: Community based women entrepreneurship model offering solid, sustainable income locally. Through the identification of an easy to implement entrepreneurial model (family or individual based), women with disabilities, and women who are caregivers to children with disabilities, will be supported to pursue the opportunity to become self-employed in their own or family-based business. Key elements include free, professional coaching of business development specialists to be provided to entrepreneurs, with follow-along mentoring; joint marketing/promotion platforms (low cost be effective) to be identified; startup grants or microfinance services to be made available.
Direction II: Employment opportunities and specialized services to allow women with disabilities to enter/return to the primary labor market. Keystone will provide assistance and consultancy to future employers, to persons with disabilities, and to their families to afford people opportunities to earn decent pay for real work. This approach will include searching and preparing future employers, will deal with challenges the future employees will meet, and will provide necessary assistance to their families and caregivers to be actively supportive of this new situation. Key activities for women with disabilities: HR services, preparation trainings, workplace assistance; Activities for families: family (peer) club, family consultations, monitoring the progress; Activities for employers: HR services, preparation trainings, workplace assistance, regular job monitoring.
According to an estimate by the United Nations, ten percent of the world's population, 650 million people, are currently living with disabilities. Though reliable, global disability statistics are sparse on the topic of institutionalization, it is believed that eight to ten million infants and children live in orphanages worldwide, many with physical and intellectual disabilities. As these children age, they often remain segregated from society against their will in large, congregate institutions. This is one of the great human rights challenges of our time. Even in developed countries like the United States, and despite decades of deinstitutionalization efforts and advances in disability rights policy, there are still adults with disabilities who remain in institutional settings.
Women and girls with disabilities are at an especially great risk of social exclusion, due not only to their gender, but also their disability. This dual discrimination makes them particularly vulnerable to abuse, neglect, maltreatment, and countless other violations of their human rights. Much of the marginalization and isolation experienced by girls and women with disabilities is due to discriminatory laws and practices, as well as the stigmatizing attitudes/beliefs of family and community members. In developing countries like Moldova and others in Eastern Europe, the dearth of mechanisms for the prevention of institutionalization for people with disabilities is often severe, with existing social policies typically geared exclusively toward segregated residential services, rather than inclusive community-based services. These girls become invisible - forgotten - tucked away in institutions or hidden at home by their families, never having an opportunity to participate in life.
Additionally, disability is known to be a major cause of income poverty. In all parts of the world, women with disabilities face significantly higher levels of difficulty in attaining adequate housing, health, education, vocational training, and employment, and are more likely to be institutionalized than men with disabilities, according to the United Nations. Women are also disproportionately the primary or sole caregivers of family members with disabilities, which can make it difficult for them to find employment outside of the home, resulting in further exclusion and poverty for the family. Families play a critical role in the promotion of human rights and the full community inclusion of people with disabilities, but they require support to fulfill this role.