Characteristics of children, caregivers, and orphanages for young children in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

Article Title: Characteristics of children, caregivers, and orphanages for young children in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

Authors: Rifkat J. Muhamedrahimov; Natalia V. Nikoforova; Oleg I. Palmov; Christina J. Groark; Robert B. McCall; Larry Fish

Abstract: This report provides baseline information on conditions in orphanages in the Russian Federation. This information addresses three major limitations in the literature on the development of children residing in substandard orphanages and those adopted from such environments. First, although there is an assumption that early exposure to substandard orphanages is associated with a variety of developmental delays during and after residency, there are essentially no comprehensive, empirical descriptions of what these early environments are like. This paper provides such information on the orphanage system in the Russian Federation and on a sample of children from 0–4 years of age residing in three orphanages in St. Petersburg. Second, because the orphanage environment is typically globally deficient, it is difficult to discern causal variables in developmental delays. In this report we attempt to show that the most salient deficiencies are in the social–emotional environment. Third, there are few empirical descriptions in the literature of the birth circumstances and characteristics of children residing in orphanages which make it difficult to untangle the relative contributions of poor perinatal circumstances and the orphanage environment in accounting for developmental delays. The results of this study show that a larger than expected number of orphanage children have poor perinatal circumstances, and most fall far below the average local Russian norms on physical, cognitive and psychosocial development.

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