Posted by: Peggy Kaufman

Peggy in DnepI am writing this in the airport in Kiev during a six-hour layover in my return travels from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine to Boston. This marks the end of a fascinating week of meetings, interviews, and conversations to assess the feasibility of bringing some of the programs of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® (CERS) to the community of Dnepropetrovsk.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, cries came to the Boston community from the National Council of Soviet Jewry claiming that there were Jews still in Dnepropetrovsk and their needs were overwhelming. The Boston Jewish Community Relations Council mobilized medical, education, and geriatric care professionals. JF&CS has already contributed hugely to the humanitarian efforts helping to build the Educational Resource Center for children with special needs. Our own Marsha Frankel is a hero for bringing her knowledge of geriatric mental health to the Jewish community.

As for my needs assessment, I engaged in conversations with doctors, teachers, mothers, rabbis, and fund leaders. It has been more than 22 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, yet scars are still "red". Underpaid medical professionals do not have equipment, medicine, or staff needed to care for vulnerable newborns, young children, and their parents. The staff care deeply and are doing the best they can to save lives, yet once saved there is little, if any, follow up care and services. Women give birth and go home with no supports, resources, or networks of care. Postpartum depression is not uttered because, if identified, there is nowhere to turn.

Clearly there is great need. The questions of best and next steps remain. For now we will organize to get pacifiers to the hospital for the micro preemies and contact information for some of the neonatologists. I have joined Marsha Frankel on the Dnepropetrovsk Medical Committee and look forward to continued conversations with the Jewish Community Relations Council to explore the potential adaptations of CERS programs to Dnepropetrovsk.

Peggy KaufmanPeggy H. Kaufman, MEd, LICSW is the Founding Director of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support. With a background in perinatal emotional health and the growth and development of parents, her interests include the earliest relationships. Ms. Kaufman is the recipient of multiple awards for her groundbreaking programs and her commitment to increase awareness of postpartum depression and maternal and infant mental health.