Procedure of obtaining of all agreements necessary for recovery of childrens health abroad

Today the procedure of recovery of childrens health abroad is sufficiently complicated and is subject to bureaucratism. The number of needed agreements, consents, and other papers is beyond all expectations. On the one hand, one can understand the interests of the Government which is interested in maximum guarantees of safety of and attendance to the children abroad. On the other hand, the existing mechanism of drawing up all necessary documents looks too complicated and fails to correspond to the goals set.

Regulatory basis

Recovery of childrens health abroad is regulated by the following: 1) Edict of the President of RB No. 98 dated February 18, 2004 On Organization of Recovery of Childrens Health Abroad Carried Out on the Basis of Foreign Gratuitous Aid (hereinafter Edict of the President of RB No. 98) and Ordinance of the Council of Ministers of RB No. 1113 dated August 25, 1997, that establish the principles of carrying out this activity; 2) Decree of the President of RB No. 17 dated July 14, 2003; and Ordinance of the Council of Ministers of RB No. 1601 dated December 10, 2003, that establish the procedure of obtaining licenses for this activity; 3) Ordinance of the Administrative Department of the President of RB No. 4 dated May 06, 2004; Ordinance of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of RB No. 56 dated May 24, 2004; and Ordinance of the Ministry of Education of RB No. 42 dated June 29, 2004, that regulate the issues of obtaining from the mentioned bodies of agreements on and consents to such travels. Moreover, one should remember that such activity shall be carried out within the obtaining of foreign gratuitous aid. Consequently, Decree of the President of RB No. 24 dated November 28, 2003 On Reception and Use of Foreign Gratuitous Aid; and Ordinance of the Administrative Department of the President of RB No. 7 dated June 30, 2004 On Approval of the Instruction Concerning the procedure of Registration, Reception and Utilization of Foreign Gratuitous Aid apply to it.

Definition of activities

According to Decree of the President of RB No. 17 dated July 14, 2003 On Licensing of Certain Kinds of Activities the activity related to recovery of childrens health abroad shall be not subject to licensing. But first of all, one should draw a distinction between this activity and similar kinds of activities. However surprising it might be, but neither Edict of the President of RB No. 98, nor the Regulations On Licensing the Activity related to Recovery of Childrens Health Abroad (No. 1601, approved by the Council of Ministers of RB on December 10, 2003)   give any definition of this kind of activity. The above acts only indicate certain attributes of such activity. One can find the definition only in the Instruction On Procedure of Granting Consent to Travel of Children and their Attendants Abroad for Recovery of Childrens Health, that Confirms the Humane Nature of such Travel:  Activity related to recovery of childrens health abroad is the set of measures for preparation and drawing up documents for travel of children and their attendants, transportation to the place of recovery and back, creation of favourable conditions for accommodation and feeding in the country of stay, and conduct of sports and invigorative and cultural programs aimed at optimization of conditions for childrens health recovery, which is carried out on the basis of foreign gratuitous aid rendered by foreign states, international organizations, foreign organizations and citizens, persons without any citizenship, and anonymous donors,  is directed first of all to mitigation of consequences of calamity at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, rendering help to the children who live in the families with poor living standard, orphans, children with disabilities, and children in extreme cases.

Tourist activity, which is also subject to licensing, is close to the above activity. The Law of RB On Tourism defines that tourism is a temporary departure (travel) of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus, foreign citizens and citizens without any citizenship for health recovery, cognition, vocational or business, sports, religion or any other purpose not conflicting with the legislation,  to any country (locality) of temporary stay without being involved in paid activity therein.

The main distinctions between the above two kinds of activity are: firstly, subject composition (activity in the field of health recovery abroad is targeted at children only, while tourist activity has got no age limit);  secondly, activity in the field of health recovery abroad is of non-commercial nature, while tourist activity is a commercial one (though it has been not expressly stated in the standard legal acts). Moreover, activity in the field of recovery of childrens health abroad is carried out on the basis of foreign gratuitous aid only.

Because of such definitions, it remains uncertain whereto certain kinds of activity must be assigned. For example, activity in the field of recovery of childrens health abroad sponsored by the Belarusian resident; or activity in the field of recovery of adults health abroad (e.g. adults with disabilities) carries out on the basis of foreign gratuitous aid. Such directions of activity, owing to formal interpretation of the standard legal acts, may not be treated as activities in the field of recovery of childrens health abroad carried out on the basis of foreign gratuitous aid. But one can not be sure if they may be assigned to tourist (or any other) industry and if they are subject to licensing.

Licensing

Licenses for activities in the field of recovery of childrens health abroad are granted by the Administrative Department of the President of RB. But it is the Department of Humanitarian Activity, the structural unit under the Administrative Department of the President of RB (hereinafter the Department), that is in charge of all organizational issues.

Licensing requirements and conditions made of any applicant for such license are as follows:

  • availability of at least one worker who has a university degree in pedagogics and at least a three-year experience of dealing with children (for commercial organizations: such worker shall be a staff-member; for non-commercial organization: such worker shall be a member of its governing body); an individual entrepreneur shall have a university degree in pedagogics and at least a five-year experience of dealing with children;
  • recovery of childrens health abroad shall be financed out proceeds of special-purpose foreign gratuitous aid.

The documents necessary for obtaining a license shall be submitted to the Department. In addition to the standard set of documents mandatory for all kinds of licenses specified in the Decree of the president No. 17 (application, copies of constituent documents, copy of UNN assignment, document of license tax payment), the following shall be submitted for obtaining such license:

  • a program that specifies the main principles of activity related to recovery of childrens health abroad, including: the names or a list of foreign host organizations; procedure and terms of financing; conditions of stay and travel of the children; other terms and conditions;
  • information on the Head of a legal entity of on the individual entrepreneur that/who applies for such license (in the established format).

It is worth mentioning that in compliance with Edict No. 98, the republican governmental control bodies and the structural units of the local executive committees are entitled to carry out such activity unlicensed, provided that such activity falls within their competence (is one of the duties). But as of today, neither the Regulations on the Ministry of Education, nor the Provisions on the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare or the Provisions on the Ministry of Health include such duties.

Formation of groups

The groups of children may be sent abroad only in the event that the trip organizer is maintaining contractual relations with the host partner. The contract shall provide for issues of insurance of children and persons who accompany them, conditions of their trip to the host country and back, procedure of financing the children recovery program. Edict No. 98 distinguishes between the general and special children groups. General are the organized groups of children who have no contraindications (confirmed with appropriate medical documents) to be sent abroad for health recovery; special are the organized groups of children who have any contraindications (confirmed with appropriate medical documents) to be sent abroad for health recovery within the general organized groups. Such grouping influences on the procedure of discussion of the groups composition, quality and professional competence of the persons who accompany the children. So, the general group composition is subject to approval by the Ministry of Education only, while the special group composition is subject to prior agreement with the Ministry of Health. There exists another category of children: children from boarding schools orphanages. Groups formed of such children are placed among the general ones, but their composition is subject to agreement with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of RB, and with the Ministry of Health of RB.

Unfortunately, in itself the process of children selection for travel abroad is not totally clear. Decree No. 98 specifies, that groups shall be formed by the sending partner taking account of the host partners capacity. Ordinance of the Ministry of Education of RB No. 42 dated June 29, 2004 also specifies, that formation of groups, selection and assignment of accompanying persons shall me effected by the organizations, including in interaction with the educational establishments, departments (divisions) of education. Decree o. 98 also states, that the children who have suffered from consequences of Chernobyl calamity, children with disabilities, orphans, children from large or incomplete or poor families shall have the priority of being included into such groups. The form of such priority is not clear: have the organizations to ensure a certain quota of inclusion of such children into groups; or have they to form the groups from such category of children only being not entitled to include other children (which is deemed practically impossible); or has such priority any other forms?

But there also certain peculiarities of orphans groups formation. The Ordinance of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare No. 56 dated May 24, 2004 establishes, that the trip organizers shall apply to the committee on labour and social welfare of the respective regional executive committee or the Minsk City Executive Committee that will specify the orphanage from which the children are to be sent abroad for recovery of their health.

Decree No 98 established the age limit of the children sent abroad for recovery of their health: children at the age of 7 and above (in exceptional cases at the age of 6 and above; children brought up in the orphanages within the system of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare at the age of 4 and above) and under 18 shall be sent abroad for recovery of their health. But according to Ordinance of the Ministry of Education of RB No. 42 dated June 29.2004 certain additional requirements to group formation are specified: groups shall be formed taking account of age, time of travel (school hours or vacations), medical certificates authorizing inclusion of a child into the group.

Selection of attendants

Definition of the persons who will accompany the childrens groups is of no small importance. Decree No. 98 defines that 1) selection and assignment of persons who will accompany special organized childrens groups for health recovery abroad shall be carried out by the organizers (with the exception of the childrens groups from orphanages; such groups of children from orphanages, boarding schools, etc. shall be accompanied by the teachers employed in the mentioned institutions, therefore they are selected by the administration of such institutions); 2) should there be the reference from the place of employment (study), experience of dealing with children, and subject to appropriate training and instruction, the attendants may be the persons of the full age who have got special pedagogical or medical education, the workers of organizations that send children for their health recovery; and assistant attendants or interpreters may be senior students of the higher pedagogical or medical educational establishments; 3) special groups shall be attended by the medical workers on a mandatory basis, while it is not always mandatory for general groups.

Edict No. 98 sets forth general requirements to the number of attendants: the number of attendants shall depend on the numerical strength of the group, age of the children, state of their health, forms of organization of health recovery (a family or a permanent center), period of staying abroad (school time or vacations), type of the transport, capacities of foreign organizations. The number of children may not be more than 25 per one attendant. Such requirement are given in more details in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Education No. 42 dated June 29, 2004, and Ordinance of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare No. 56 dated May 24, 2004: 1) Should recovery of childrens health be organized at a permanent center, at least 3 attendants shall accompany the group of 30 children; 2) The numerical strength of childrens groups from orphanages, boarding schools, and other institutions that ensure special education and combine the trip with an educational process, may not be more than 12 children per one attendant; 3) Should any special organized group that includes children suffering from peculiar psychophysical development be directed abroad, the number of attendants shall be 1 for every 4 children; 4) one attendant shall accompany each child who suffers from disorders of the locomotor apparatus and/or moves in a wheelchair.

Should any group of children be sent abroad during the school time and the period of such trip exceeds 15 days, the trip organizers have to provide for organization of the educational process. For this purpose, the teachers who have an appropriate vocational preparation level may accompany the groups. The number of teachers accompanying any childrens group shall depend on the group composition: at least three teachers (teaching basic subjects) shall accompany the group of middle and senior schoolchildren, and one teacher shall accompany elementary schoolchildren.

The trip organizes shall enter into contracts with all attendants. A standard form of such contract was approved by the Ordinance of the Administrative Department of the President of RB No. 4 dated may 06, 2004.

All group attendants shall undertake to get special training and instruction within the system of the Ministry of Education of RB. Instruction On Procedure of Training and Instruction of the Persons who Accompany General Organized Groups of Children Sent Abroad for Recovery of their Health was approved by the Ordinance of the Ministry of Education No. 42 dated June 19, 2004. In order to carry out training and instruction of attendants the trip organizer has to apply to the educational establishment, responsible for such training and instruction, within 2 months prior to the group departure. Should the organizer apply within less than a months before the group departure, such training and instruction shall be carried out at the unscheduled time at the expense of the organizer. The Ministry of Education has specified the following organizations authorized to carry out such training: Educational Establishment The National Center of Creative Artistic Activities of Children and Youth, Educational Establishment The Republican Center of Tourism and Regional Studies for the Students, and the educational establishments that are involved in upgrade and retraining of personnel within the extension courses for specialists of the education system. Training shall be carried out in the form of a 6-hour seminar in accordance with the developed plans, and shall be completed with the examination in the form of interlocution. Such examination shall be passed at least once in three years.

Agreement of lists of children and attendants

The next stage, following formation of the lists of children sent abroad for recovery of their health, and their attendants, shall be agreement of such lists. Edict No. 98 states that: 1) the lists of children from orphanages, and their attendants shall be agreed with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare; 2) the list of children sent abroad in general groups, and their attendants, shall be agreed with the Ministry of Education; 3) the lists of children sent abroad in special groups, ant their attendants shall be agreed with the ministry of Education and the Ministry of health.

Up till now, the Ministry of health has not yet established the procedure of agreement of the lists of children. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare has not yet established the procedure, but only reassigned this duty to its Regional (and the Minsk City-) Committees (see paragraph 2 of Ordinance of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. 56 dated may 24, 2004). The only ministry that has provided for regulation of the issue concerning agreement of such lists is the Ministry of Education: the respective instruction was approved by the Ordinance of the Ministry of Education No. 42 dated June 29, 2004.

In order to agree the lists, the Ministry of Education demands of submission of the application, the lists (on paper and electronic media), petition of the departments of education stating the necessity of travel of the children under 6 (if any). The list format was approved by the ordinance No. 42 dated June 29, 2004. But prior to submission to the Ministry of Education the lists shall be previously agreed with its subordinate structures: 1) the manager of the district (municipal) department of education and the manager of the educational establishment (if a group of children of the same educational establishment is sent); 2) the manager of the district (municipal) department of education (if a group of children from different educational establishments of the same district of the city is sent); 3) the manager of the regional (Minsk City-) Department of Education (if a group of children from different districts of the region (or of the city of Minsk) is sent).

The organizers shall submit the following documents to be agreed with the departments of education:
  1. certificates (references) or lists from the place of study of the children;
  2. copies of the university diplomas of the attendants;
  3. references (letters of recommendation) issued at the place of employment (study) of the attendants;
  4. copies of certain pages from the service-record that confirm the workers dealing with children (for the attendants who have university degree in pedagogics or medicine but, as of the date of drawing up the documents, are not doing the job they was trained for);
  5. references (including the same in the Russian language) issued by the organizations or foreign organizations that confirm positive experience in dealing with children (for the attendants who do not have university degree in pedagogics or medicine)
  6. written consent of the manager of the educational establishment to send children abroad for recovery of their health during the study period; and information on arrangement for curricula fulfillment in its full scope after such children are back (if such children are sent abroad but no educational process will be arranged for);
  7. a copy of the order issued by the manager of the educational establishment to direct certain teachers abroad for the purpose of arranging for the educational process (if such children are sent abroad during the study period and the educational process will be arranged for).

Such documents may be submitted to the Ministry of Education only after agreement with the its subordinate structures. They shall be submitted to the Ministry of Education within 25 calendar days to the date of the groups departure abroad at the latest. The Ordinance of the Ministry of Education states, that the Ministry makes its decision on agreement or disagreement with the list on the basis of consideration of the documents submitted. But nothing is mentioned, in what cases the ministry can make decision on disagreement.

Obtaining of a consent of the Department of Humanitarian Activity

Obtaining of a consent of the Department of Humanitarian Activity confirming the humanitarian cnature of the trip is a final stage before departure of the group for recovery of childrens health abroad. In order to obtain such consent the organizer shall submit to the Department: 1) the copy of the contract (with presentation of its original) on co-operation signed with a foreign organization; 2) the document issued by the host partner confirming that conditions have been created at the destination place in compliance with hygiene rules and sanitary standards established in RB (in case of collective accommodation in the health recovery institutions or other permanent centers); 3) the agreed lists of children and attendants; 4) the contract on accompanying an organized group of children, entered into between the organizer and the attendant; 5) other documents that confirm the humanitarian nature of the trip.

The documents shall be submitted to the Department within 15 days prior to their submission to the embassies and consulates of foreign countries.

 

Responsibility

In accordance with the Regulations on Licensing Activities Related to Recovery of Childrens Health Abroad (approved by Ordinance of the Council of Ministers of RB No. 1601 dated December 10, 2003), the licensing body (the Administrative Department of the President of RB) is entitled to make a decision on license cancellation. At the same time, failing by the Licensee to comply with the standard legal acts shall be deemed gross violation of the terms and conditions of such licensed activity. Such rather broad wording enables to consider practically any violation of procedure of carrying out such activity as a violation and hence, can be the reason of the license cancellation.

In addition, as the activity related to recovery of childrens health abroad is carried out at the expense of foreign gratuitous aid, Decree of the President of RB No. 24 dated November 28, 2003 On Reception and Use of Foreign Gratuitous Aid applies to such activity specifying its scope of responsibility.

Conclusion

Thus, the following shall be done in order to sent a group of children for recovery of their health abroad: to enter into a contract with the host partner; to obtain a document that confirms existing of adequate conditions for accommodation; to get a license for carrying out such kind of activity; to agree the lists of children and attendants with the departments of education and the Ministry of Education (sometimes, with the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare as well); to sign contracts with the attendants who must be trained within special courses and get certificates; to obtain a consent of the Department of Humanitarian Activity. Having in mind this pile of agreement and permissive procedures, one should get the list of children and attendants ready for agreement at least within 2 months prior to submission of all document for visa (this period does not include the time necessary for obtaining a license for this activity).