Monitoring of Assisted Living Facility of St. Matthias the Apostle Foundation
On June 15, 2021, representatives of the Public Defender of Georgia visited the Assisted Living Facility of St. Matthias the Apostle Foundation in the village of Peria - NNLE. During the visit, Public Defender's representatives met with the administration and caregivers of the institution, inspected and assessed physical environment, as well as documentation of the institution, and talked to beneficiaries.
Despite the physical arrangement of the living space and provision of necessary conditions for meeting the beneficiaries’ basic needs, the monitoring identified a number of challenges relating to the documentation of the facility and its beneficiaries, preparation of beneficiaries for independent living, socialization of children and their formal enrollment in the facility. It should be noted that the form of care in the facility is entirely institutional in nature and does not create a family-like environment that would be tailored to the individual needs of each child.
The rules of the facility, closed environment, arrangement of school and various activities inside the facility make children unhealthily attached to the institution. In addition, juveniles are not informed of their rights, forms of violence and protection mechanisms.
The lack of visits of social workers of the Agency for State Care to the institution is alarming. They do not have individual, effective, trust-based communication with children, which not only violates Georgian legislation but also substantially hinders the protection of the rights of children and increases distrust towards the Agency for State Care.
At the end of the monitoring, the Public Defender's representatives informed the administration of the institutions about the problematic issues identified as a result of the monitoring and gave relevant recommendations.
The monitoring results once again showed that the institutional arrangement of large institutions cannot provide and, on the contrary, contradicts the obligation of raising children in a family-like environment tailored to their individual needs.
The Public Defender calls on the state agencies to take all effective measures in a timely manner to facilitate the deinstitutionalisation process in order to ensure that juveniles in state care are raised in a family-like environment.
It is necessary to expand services and resources aimed at supporting and strengthening children and their biological families, which will facilitate the reintegration of children into their biological families and prevent their placement in state care.