April 03, 2008

Victor Groza—changing lives of children…one country at a time

Case Western Reserve University social work professor transforms adoption systems

Victor Groza, Zoe Breen Wood, Marissa Ross (undergrad, political science), Maya Peterson (undergrad, nursing)

Orphaned children need homes. Victor Groza from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University has been working to reform child welfare systems around the world.

Groza started with Romania in 1991 and then India in 2001. The Ukraine followed in 2005. Now through UNICEF's international child welfare initiative, he has been working closely with Guatemalan social service agencies for the past year to move children out of institutional care into a foster care system and promoting the value that children should grow up with families.

Meanwhile Guatemala, a country that has been a source for international adoptions, has suspended adoptions as the country makes reforms in compliance with the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption as outlined in the Convention's Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000. According to the U.S. State Department's statistics, visas were issued to 4,135 orphans coming to the United States.

An adoption and child welfare expert, Groza has traveled three times to Guatemala to understand the special challenges the country faces in reforming its system. Recently he made the trip with Zoe Breen Wood, another renowned child welfare specialist and faculty member at MSASS, and Case Western Reserve University students over spring break to Antigua to train and listen to social service workers and lawyers about modernizing child welfare practices, policies and programs. Two alums, Jane Robertson and Virginia Douglas, conducted the training along with Groza and Wood.

Accompanying the faculty members were eight undergraduate, seven graduate students, and one doctoral student, who visited a women's cooperative, a reproductive health center, and learned about child welfare—from the perspective of an indigenous (Mayan) woman—as part of their travel studies class in Guatemala. Also during the trip, the Case Western Reserve University group delivered to local agencies over 200 pounds of shoes, educational materials and personal care items, donated by the members of the social work school.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, April 3, 2008 11:16 AM | News Topics: Alumni, Collaborations/Partnerships, Community Outreach, Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Provost Initiatives, Public Policy/Politics, Students, features

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