The Public Health Foundation of Georgia (PHF) was established in 1998 by a group of pediatricians to help people, whose health and well-being was at risk. The Fund was set up as an NGO in 1999 and before 2013 operated under the name of the Public Health and Medicine Development Fund of Georgia.
From the day of establishment, the focus and main direction of activities of the Public Health Foundation of Georgia is development of the standards of treating child with dignity; foundation dedicates particular attention to the issues on protecting children from abuse.
A European Union Funded project “No Violence against Women and Children.”, which was implemented by PHF in 2001-2003 years in partnership with non-governmental organizations – “Step Forward” and “Woman and Society” was the first and very important step made to lift the taboo from child abuse issue in Georgia. First steps are always challenging, however it appeared to be useful since it opened discussion, although painful, among the professional society about the existence of child abuse in Georgia.
The Public Health Foundation of Georgia founded “Child Support Center” in 2002, a first consultation and rehabilitation center for child survivors of abuse. PHF, up to date, provides this service to child survivors or those at-risk. Service of the Public Health Foundation of Georgia, as well as its work on child abuse in general, is based on multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral cooperation principles. The Foundation tries to integrate this principle in child protection system of Georgia.
The Public Health Foundation of Georgia won multidisciplinary team award from the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) in 2008 for its significant contribution to the welfare of children.
Children and young people hold important place in PHF’s life and it is no coincidence that the very first project of PHF, funded by the Open Society Georgia Foundation was specially designed for children and youth. Implementation of the project “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” launched in 1999, continued over the years, the project became part of the similar international movement. Starting from this period, children and young people play significant role in designing and then implementing programs of the fund – peer education, awareness rising campaigns, development of educational programs for children on child abuse issues are carried out with their meaningful participation. Children greatly contributed to the drafting process of the General Comment 13 to the Article 19 (The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Children can protect their rights if such opportunity is not limited by adults. The Public Health Foundation of Georgia set up child helpline with number 116 111 reserved for childhelplines across the Europe for the purpose to enable children to voice their problems and seek support when such need arises. The child helpline Georgia requires promotion to make it accessible for all children in Georgia for 24/7.
The Public Health Foundation of Georgia spends many efforts on the enhancement of knowledge and skills among the professionals who work with children or are in contact with children within their job scopes. In its lifetime, hundreds of professionals - social workers, police officers, medical doctors, nurses, teachers, caregivers, etc. has been trained by PHF in prevention, identification and provision of adequate response.
The Public Health Foundation of Georgia has elaborated and published a) guidelines on identification and management of child abuse cases for nurses, social workers, medical doctors and law enforcers; b) a methodological guide on rehabilitation of child victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse, which supports specialists who practice child rehabilitation. PHF contributed to the introduction of child abuse issues at the universities of Georgia for future medical doctors, teachers, social workers and law enforcers. A publication - “Key Issues of Child Abuse” for students developed in close cooperation with Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University was published in 2009.
The Public Health Foundation of Georgia by means of elaborating, publishing and training of judiciary in the use of child victim and witness interview methodology improved significantly the situation of children, victims and witnesses of abuse in the legal proceedings. Methodology on forensic interviewing of child victim and witness of abuse/crime was published in 2014 and is based on the structured investigative interview guide of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development - NICHD Protocol. The Georgian version of the NICHD Protocol was elaborated and adapted in close collaboration with the authors of the original version of the Protocol.
From the day of establishment, the Public Health Foundation of Georgia advocates for the development of child protection and welfare field. The Fund initiated and then in 2007-2008 years implemented UNICEF Georgia’s “National Study on Violence against Children in Georgia” and “National Study on School Violence in Georgia”. The findings of the research supported to the development of the system protecting children from violence in Georgia; issues on protection of children from violence were incorporated in the state Child welfare and Protection Action Plans. This process was successfully concluded in 2010, when mandatory Child Protection Referral Procedures was officially enacted. Knowledge and experience of the Public Health Foundation of Georgia in managing child abuse cases by employing multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral cooperation approaches, was also reflected in the Child Protection Referral Procedures.
The Public Health Foundation of Georgia, in the advocacy process uses international audience and instruments, together with local and international partners’ participates in drafting and presentation of alternative reports. Organization is a member of many international and local networks and the Georgian Coalition on Child and youth Welfare.
We believe that it is possible to prevent abuse by empowering families, promoting good parenting skills and raising public awareness, therefore, awareness rising, advancing knowledge and skills of professionals, supporting the development of sustainable and strong child protection system was and will always be a historic goal for the Public Health Foundation of Georgia.
This web site of the Public Health Foundation of Georgia is dedicated to child protection from abuse and the history is a short overview of organizations’ experience in this field. The fund has an extensive experience in public health, charity and humanitarian activities and similar to its child abuse program, this sphere of activity of the fund also starts from the day of its establishment and is still ongoing.