|Delivery of Humanitarian Aid through Teaching and Applying Behaviour Analysis in the Nation of Georgia
|Tuesday, May 27, 2014
|10:00 AM–10:50 AM
|W190b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
|Area: CSE/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
|Chair: Edward K. Morris (The University of Kansas)
|CE Instructor: Edward K. Morris, Ph.D.
This symposium addresses three initiatives for transitioning abandoned, abused, and disabled children from state institutions to community-based alternatives in the nation of Georgia. First, applied behaviour analysis (ABA) was taught at several of the institutions and Tbilisi State University, while professional development was provided to Georgian psychologists in New Zealand and the United States. Second, advocating for improved policies, implementing improved practices, and transitioning the children was begun. With UNICEF funding, this Children of Georgia project evaluated the ability of 700 children in 13 institutions to be transitioned, supported ABA training for Georgian staff members to improve childcare in four institutions, and prepared children for transitions (e.g., to their homes). Third, the Project supported school teachers, parents of children with autism, and caretakers in the community-based alternatives (e.g., group homes). Applied behaviour analysis was the foundation for improving policies, developing community-based alternatives, and training a generation of Georgian psychologists in ABA, some of whom disseminate it in Georgian institutions of higher education. The continued development of these initiatives at James Madison University, VA is discussed. These initiatives were the basis for the 2014 award from the Society for the Advancement of Behaviour Analysis for the International Dissemination of Behaviour Analysis.
Responding with ABA to Guide and Initiate Policy Changes for Children in Closed Georgian Institutions
|JANEMARY CASTELFRANC-ALLEN RAWLS (Applied Psychology International)
Emerging from civil war, Georgia had numerous children in poor conditions in closed and previously Soviet-controlled institutions in 1997. The initial response of two behaviour analysts from New Zealand was to select and support committed psychology graduates from Tbilisi State University, teach ABA, and conduct related practica in the "Tbilisi Infant House" and the notorious "Kaspi" institution for children deemed disabled. Emphasis was on developing skilled behaviour analysts rather than ABA technologists. Funds and political permission allowed three psychologists to work in three institutions to improve childcare. Professional development was furthered by two visiting practitioner-professors to Georgia, three-month placements for several Georgian in New Zealand and the US, and ABA programs to assess and therapeutically intervene with infants/children in four institutions. Assessment reports on child welfare presented at several political levels became part of child advocacy to improve the lives of these children. The "Children of Georgia" NGO was established and offices purchased from which to work and be known. Grant applications to Save the Children and UNICEF were made, sparking almost a decade of training, supervising, and supporting "Children of Georgia" work alongside other NGOs and original ABA members now in Governmental positions to assist vulnerable children in Georgia.
Preparing for Closure of Georgian State Children's Institutions and Transitioning Children into the Community
|BARRY S. PARSONSON (Applied Psychology International)
Assessing children and preparing for the closure of institutions ahead of transition into community-based living required development of an adaptive behaviour assessment instrument to determine each childs readiness for inclusion and to identify their placement options. The training of a new generation of ABA specialists to work in institutions with staff and children to help them manage challenging behaviours and to initiate pre-school education and life-skills programmes was also initiated in four institutions. ABA trained psychologists also prepared young institutionalized children for transition to community and family living, as well as training the foster-parents who were to receive and care for them. In addition, this presentation traces the process of developing policies and procedures for transition to the community, advocacy at the Government level for appropriate legal, and social provisions for adoption and foster care and for the childrens right of access to medical services and educational facilities. It also briefly addresses the impact of the 2008 Georgian-Russian conflict on displaced and traumatised families and the support services developed to meet the resulting crisis.
Increasing Capacity for Georgian Caregivers Supporting Children with Histories of Abuse, Neglect, and Developmental Disablities
|ANA BARKAIA (Children of Georgia), Nino Chkhaidze (Children of Georgia), Trevor F. Stokes (James Madison University)
As large institutions for children were closed, Georgian children were transferred to small group homes staffed by caregivers. Children served included those with histories of abuse, neglect, and attachment disorders. These programs were supported by consultation from NGO Children of Georgia psychologists. At the same time, awareness of the prevalence and challenges of autism spectrum disorder became more prominent and the need for services to support children and families was responded to by Children of Georgia psychologists providing direct services and training for parents. The need to build capacity and professional competencies for direct caregivers, parents and teachers was subsequently addressed by a series of workshops by international consultants who provided both didactic and practical training and experience with in-home consultation. Additional training opportunities for Georgian psychologists were made available by scholarship support of two behavior analysts to enroll in graduate degree programs at James Madison University in Virginia. Following this additional training these students will return to Georgia to contribute as leaders in the further development of therapy services and programs for children and families in Tbilisi and the outlying regions in rural areas. They will also develop programs for advancing knowledge within human service systems and tertiary education.