News & Events


An article about the reform and the role of Russian child welfare NGOs as policy entrepreneurs by Eleanor Bindman, Meri Kulmala and Elena Bogdanova was published in Governance (2018, 1-16) in October: “NGOs and the policy‐making process in Russia: The case of child welfare reform“.

The project leader, Meri Kulmala was invited to the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University as a visiting fellow and worked in Cambridge for April-June, 2018.

The Special Issue of the project with the Journal of Social Policy Studies (15:3) has been published. We welcome you to read the  articles by several team members in English and in Russian!

Three latest issues of the Russian Analytical Digest dealt with policy making processes in contemporary Russia. In the issue No. 200 Project Director Meri Kulmala analyzed the on-going reform of state systems for child welfare, arguing that it is necessary to look beyond decorative institutional renovation and consider whether the underlying ideas driving Russia’s child welfare policy are shifting.

PhD Anna Tarasenko from Higher School of Economics and European University at Saint Petersburg started to work as a post doc researcher in the program. Welcome to the team, Anna!

“It is a major risk in child welfare reform in Russia to focus on decorative institutional renovation”, writes the leader of the project Meri Kulmala in recently published Aleksanteri Insight (5/2016).

The project leader, Meri Kulmala was interviewed about Russian civil society development, including the role of Russian child welfare NGOs, to the University of Helsinki News:

The project leader, Meri Kulmala was granted by a three-year Academy of Finland post doctoral fellowship, starting 1 September, 2016. Her research will be dedicated on the current child welfare reform in Russia.

The latest issue of Demokratizatsiya: The journal of Post-Soviet Democratization includes articles by the team members on the topic. “NGOs, Policy Entrepreneurship and Child Protection in Russia: Pittfals and Prospect for Civil Soviety” by Elena Bogdanova & Eleanor Bindman and “Post-Soviet “Political”? “Social” and “Political” in the Work of Russian Socially-oriented CSOs” by Meri Kulmala.

M.Soc.Sc. Anna Klimova, a graduate from social and cultural anthropology at the European University (Saint Petersburg), started working as a PhD candidate in the project on April 1, 2016.

Latest news & events:

Several papers on the topic of child welfare and deinstitutionalization will be presented at the up-coming Aleksanteri Conference, 24-26 October, 2018.

Project leader Meri Kulmala presented the results of the project in October 2018 at the EUSARF Conference (European Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents) in Portugal and at the mid-term conference of ESA Research Network Sociology of Social Policy and Social Welfare (RN26) in Italy. In September she also attended the all-Russian conference of directors of Russian children homes in Moscow.

A research-practice seminar focusing on foster villages was held with Russian child welfare practitioners and foster parents, 19-20 February, 2018 in Tomilino and Orion, Russia.

Several papers on the topic of child welfare and social policy were presented at the up-coming Aleksanteri Conference, 25-27 October, 2017.

An International Research and Practice Seminar DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION OF CHILD WELFARE AND OUT-OF-HOME CARE REFORMS IN POST-SOCIALIST SPACE: A LOOK THROUGH THE LENS OF CHILDREN’S VILLAGES organized by the project will take place in Riga, 31 October – 1 November, 2017.

11-14 April, 2017 in Moscow at the XVIII April International Academic Conference on Social and Economic Conference by HSE was organized a panel session on the on-going reform in which several team members presented their findings.

31 March – 2 April, 2017 Cambridge, UK BASEES Annual Conference: Project leader Meri Kulmala presented a co-authored paper with Michael Rasell and Zhanna Chernova. Also team members Anna Tarasenko and Eleanor Bindman presented their papers on the topic.

19.–20.12.2016, Helsingin yliopisto

Lastensuojelu Suomessa ja Venäjällä: Järjestelmät, käytännöt ja järjestöjen roolit

Lastensuojelun kehittäminen on ajankohtaista sekä Suomessa että Venäjällä. Suomessa uudistukset paikantuvat LAPE-muutosohjelmaan, Venäjällä taas on käynnissä laaja laitoshoidon purkamishanke, jossa kehitetään sijaisperhetoimintaa ja sijoitusten tarvetta ehkäisevää tukea perheille. Seminaari tarjoaa tilaisuuden keskusteluun suomalaisten ja venäläisten lastensuojelun asiantuntijoiden välillä sekä oppimiseen järjestelmien ja käytäntöjen erityispiirteistä. Seminaarissa käsiteltäviä aiheita ovat muun muassa Suomen ja Venäjän lastensuojelujärjestelmät, perheiden tukeminen avohuollon palveluin, sijaishuollon järjestäminen ja jälkihuolto.


17-20 November 2016, Washington DC (US)
Meri Kulmala (Aleksanteri Institute) and Elena Bogdanova (CISR) participated at the 48th Annual ASEEES Convention. Meri Kulmala presented a joint authored paper with Zhanna Chernova (HSE) and Michael Rasell (University of Lincoln) on the ideational change in Russian child welfare policy and Elena Bogdanova on SOS Villages in Russia (see the program).

26-28 October 2016, Helsinki
The 16th Aleksanteri Conference was held at the University of Helsinki. This year the conference dealt with social policy and welfare related issues in contemporary Russia, including the topic of child welfare. The team members of the project presented their finding in the panels 1B, 6C and 7D, see the program. Read more also in the Aleksanteri News 3-4/2016, devoted to the conference.

2 November 2016, Moscow
A seminar that brought together Russian and Finnish officials, scholars and practitioners of child welfare entitled, Supporting well-being of families and child protection: Experiences from Finland and Russia, will be organized in collaboration with Central Union of Child Welfare and Finnish Embassy in Moscow. Read more in Russian and in Finnish.

Team members Zhanna Chernova and Larisa Shpakovskaya presented on the topic at the VI International Congress for Belorusian Studies (VI Международный конгресс исследований Беларуси), in the session “Transformation of Gender Approach in Political and Academic Mainstream of the Post-Socialist Countries” (Kaunas, Lithuania, 7-9 October, 2016).

Professor Zhanna Chernova and Project leader Meri Kulmala participated and talked in a seminar on evaluating the effects of Russian child welfare projects in Moscow, 20-22 September, 2016.

The call for papers for our special issue on deinstitutionalization of child welfare in Russia with Journal of Social Policy Studies in now open. We welcome contributions in Russian and in English. The dead line for the proposals: the end of September, 2016.

7-10 September, 2016 ECPR General Conference: Project leader Meri Kulmala with Professor Zhanna Chernova and team members Anna Tarasenko and Eleanor Bindman presented papers on the topic.

Professor of Sociology Zhanna Chernova for the Higher School of Enonomics (Saint Petersburg) will serve as a visiting fellow in the project at the Aleksanteri Insitute (University of Helsinki) for August 2016.

28 June-July 1, 2016, Stockholm
ISTR’s 12th International Conference: Meri Kulmala will present a paper co-authored with Elena Bogdanova.

Project leader Meri Kulmala served as a visiting fellow at the Centre for Studies of Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector (CSCSNS) of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) (Moscow, Russia) for April-June 2016.

Several Members of the team presented on child welfare, NGOs and social policy at the XVII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, organized by the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, 19-22 April, 2016.

Kick-off seminar of the project was held at the Higher School of Economics (in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Income and Standard of Living, Higher School of Economics), 18 April 2016, Moscow. See for the agenda of the seminar.

18 March 2016, Helsinki
The team members had a one-day brainstorming session at Kamari of the Kone Foundation.

15 December 2015
Research project of Meri Kulmala’s workgroup A child’s right to a family: deinstitutionalization of child welfare in Putin’s Russia has received a three-year funding for 2016-2018 from the University of Helsinki. The project investigates Russia’s national child welfare and foster care programming.

The university yearly allocates its funds to support research. The grants for three-year research projects are intended for promising researchers of the University of Helsinki. Kulmala’s workgroup was also among the Kone Foundation grant recipients this autumn.