Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages Association
SOS Children’s Villages association is a charity organization. Since 1997 we support SOS families for children, who have lost parental care, and help families in a crisis in the SOS Family Support centers.
Our main goal is to provide safe and comfortable conditions for the development of a child while ensuring the rights and needs of all children are fulfilled.
Iveta Vējone is the patroness of the SOS Children’s Villages association since September 2015.
Iveta Vējone believes ‘’every child needs a family, where they feel loved, understood, welcomed and needed. Every child needs a place, where they are cared for, to grow up and move onto the next stage of their lives.’’
Funding and support
The operation of our organization is dependant on the kindness of the donors. In order for the SOS families to be capable of raising the kids, they need the support of our donors. Municipalities the kids are born in cover half of the expenses required in order to raise them. The rest of the resources are provided to our SOS foster families thanks to the contributions of kind donors.
Public benefit status
Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages association has been granted the status of a public benefit organization. It means individuals and companies donating to Latvia's SOS Children's Villages association are entitled to an income tax deduction.
Documents confirming the organization’s public benefit status can be seen here.
Ilze Paleja / Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages association dircetor
We strongly believe that every child should grow up in a family, not an institution. In the best case scenario - in their biological families. However, if it is not possible for any reason, the child should be provided with the opportunity to grow up in a caring and sincere foster family. That is why Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages association has been forming and supporting SOS families for kids, who have lost parental care, and helping families through difficult times for over 20 years.
Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages association is a membership-based organization. The main decision-making body is the annual general Assembly of Members. Every three years, members elect a new Association Council of 7 people. The organization has 3 honorary members.
Veronika Kima Zeile
What are SOS Children’s Villages?
Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages association’s mission is to protect and care for children who have lost parental care, or who stand at risk of losing it.
In order to care for children and families experiencing crises, Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages have implemented numerous projects: SOS Children’s Villages and youth-homes, and SOS family strengthening projects.
How do children get into SOS families?
The decision to take away parents’ custody of a child is in the hands of the municipality custody court. Together with the municipal social service, they search for the most suitable substitute family for each child. If a child does not have any relatives or anyone, who is ready to take custody of the child. SOS foster families are usually chosen for biological siblings looking for a family. Brothers and sisters are not separated in SOS villages and foster families can care for up to 7 siblings.
Family strengthening and support
Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages association ensures short-term care when working with families in a crisis, in an attempt to prevent family breakdown by providing psychosocial support and financial support if needed. Families can receive psychosocial support, participate in different support groups and activities for children and adults for free. Family strengthening and support centres are located in three cities around Latvia: Rīga, Valmiera, Bauska.
The aim of family strengthening and support projects is to assist parents in taking care and responsibility of their children, so every child can grow up in the most suitable environment – their own family.
We started these projects in 2006. Since then, more than 5000 children and their families have received help.
The first SOS Village was founded in Austria.
The first SOS village was founded by Hermann Gmeiner with his companions. After war the village served as a home for orphans and abandoned children in Imst, Austria. Thousands of children lost their parents during WW2, being left with no home, care, parental love and attention. H. Gmeiner, a medicine student, was convinced that a family environment provides a more stable basis, on which to build a future, than an orphanage. His philosophy is based on four principles: mother, siblings, family and a village. Care in SOS Children's Villages is still based on said principles.
The first youth home was founded
The first youth home was built in Innsbruck, Austria. Based on the child care model developed by H. Gmeiner, SOS Children's Villages organizations are founded in France, Germany, Italy.
The international organization SOS-Kinderdorf International was founded.
The international organization SOS-Kinderdorf International is the ''roof'' organization to all national SOS Children's Villages organizations in the world. In the sixties, SOS villages are established in many countries around Europe. Based on this model, creation of SOS villages in Korea, other Asian countries and Latin America begins.
Organization begins operating in Africa, opening tens of villages in many countries.
Status of a consultative NGO.
SOS-Kinderdorf International obtains the status of a consultative NGO in United Nations Economic and Social Council.
First SOS village in Latvia
The first SOS village is created in Latvia, Īslīce, Bauska county, including 10 SOS families with 22 children.
Pride in accomplishments
SOS-Kinderdof International is awarded the prestigious Konrad N. Hilton Humanism Prize – a remarkable worldwide award for significant contribution to reducing human suffering.
First SOS youth home in Latvia and first family strengthening and support project.
The first SOS youth home in Latvia is opened in Jegava. 6 youngsters ages 16-24 are preparing to begin an independent life in the youth home. In Bauska, help is provided to families in a crisis – family strengthening and support program that runs until the end of 2008.
An SOS village and the first family support center are established in Valmiera
The second SOS Children’s Village in Latvia is established in Valmiera. Remarkably, it is the 100thSOS Children’s Village in Europe. 7 families with 35 kids begin their life in the village. The same year the first family strengthening and support center opens its doors.
The second youth home and two family support centres are established
SOS youth home in Iecava opens. 8 youngsters in difficulty are provided help and support. Two family support centers are established in Latvia – Riga, and Olaine. This year, a strategic action plan for 2016 was developed in the SOS-Kinderdorf International 18thgeneral assembly in Innsbruck. The plan determines the development of the organization in order to provide help for one million children worldwide – 100 thousand in villages and 900 thousand in family strengthening programs.
The family strengthening and support center in Bauska resumes working
The family strengthening and support center in Bauska resumes work. The main objective is to help families by supporting biological families so they can care for their children and the removal of a child from their family would not be required.
A family strengthening and support centre is established in Cēsis
A family support center opens in Cēsis thanks to funding by the European Social Fund. Currently there are more than 500 SOS Children’s Villages operating in 132 countries. SOS Children’s Villages organization is caring for approximatelt 1 272 400 children worldwide.
Beginning of the crisis program for mourning children – Over the Mountains
The crisis program for mourning children was established at the end of 2013 after the Zolitūde tragedy when the roof of the supermarket ‘’Maxima’’ collapsed and many children lost their parents. After this event, our neighboring country Estonia donated money for Latvia to support mourning children and trained many specialists for providing psychological support in two support camps. Until June 2018, summer camps for mourning children were organized annually. In autumn 2018 the program was renamed to Over the Mountains and steered their work in a different direction, providing regular support to mourning children as well as their parents. Over the Mountains aims to support children, adolescents and their families after the loss of a mother, father, brother, sister or another close person by providing support in groups and individual consultations and enlightening the society. Over the Mountains has taken upon the task to promote a healthy mourning process for children and their families as well. It is a significant contribution not only to the current psychological and physical well-being but also care for a harmonious further development of the child.
The program Buddy is developed
Within the framework of the adolescent support program Buddy, cooperation is established with families with children, in which the actions of their teenage children has or might lead to unlawful actions. Within the framework of the program the individual development and social skills are encouraged and education and employment are supported.