SOS Children’s Villages were created 70 years ago, to provide parental care for children, who had lost their parents in war. Unfortunately, due to many different reasons approximately 10% of all children still are at risk of or have lost parental care. It is a situation no child ought to experience; however, in the case this situation occurs, we have to do everything to reduce the impact of trauma and ensure a suitable environment for the development of a child.
SOS Children’s Villages care aims to provide a family environment for children temporarily or completely separated from their parents.
In a good family, children are provided with a comfortable place to live, tasty food, clothing a child likes and a caring adult, who ensures the emotional and development needs of a child are fully met. We are trying to provide the qualities in every SOS family and SOS village. In each family, an SOS mom cares for the children and in case of absence, a family nanny (aunt) substitutes the SOS mom. The village staff and and residents are like good neighbors, who know the child, ensure comfort and provide professional knowledge.
Every child, who lives in an SOS village has had at least one traumatic experience – separation from their family, which causes severe emotional distress in children, expressed in different ways. Therefore, a child is paid special attention to, when entering an SOS family, so they can adapt to the new environment. During this time, a child becomes familiar with their SOS mom, nanny and the other children, while the adults get to know the child and try to understand what is most suitable for each child and what additional support should be provided.
Based on the observations and acquired information, an individual development plan is created for each child. It provides a list of activities for the development of a child’s potential – encouragement to pursue talents, develop strengths and advance in necessary skills. An integral part of the plan is maintaining relationships with a child’s family and other people the child has been in contact with before receiving care. The individual development plan is created by an SOS family social worker in collaboration with the child’s mother and occasionally involving the child, dependent on their age.
In an SOS village, a child is provided with access to psychologist and individual or family psychiatrist sessions, music therapy, speech therapist, Montessori specialists, private tutors, etc.
In order to help SOS moms, a coach is involved in every village to help and encourage children to engage in physical activities, go on walks, play floorball and occasionally go fishing together.
Once a year, every summer, SOS children go on a trip to the seaside with their SOS mom. The children can also go to a summer camp of their choice.
Even though a part of the individual support events are provided within the SOS villages, overall SOS children lead a regular life like any other child – use opportunities provided by the local school and government, attend different educational institutions, extracurricular activities, sports clubs, etc., completely integrating into the society.
At the moment, SOS families in Īslīce and Valmiera SOS villages provide care for children that have lost parental support.