Youth care in SOS Children’s Villages is organized in two different ways – in the form of care in SOS families in Valmiera and Īslīce villages and as a separate type of care in Jelgava SOS Youth Center for children, who have joined SOS Children’s Villages in their teenage years.
Life in SOS families is similar to that in any regular family – as a teenager gets older they take on more responsibilities, begin managing money themselves, learn practical and communication skills. In the Youth Center, life is slightly different; however, the youngsters feel at home with friendly employees and their peers, while keeping in touch with their family members.
Special attention is paid to preparing youngsters for an independent life – offering additional support in solving problems and development, offering opportunities to participate in different informal youth education activities, internships, etc. Of course, if the person wants to.
Teenage and adolescence years are not simple, one has to overcome numerous challenges – search for identity, physical changes of the body, deciding on further education and career path, etc. During this time, the first romantic relationships are formed, which may be a negative experience. However, for young people growing up outside their families this time is even more difficult as they are troubled by the question ‘’ What will happen to me after I turn 18? Where will I live and who will support me?’’. Understandably, it is a source of stress and insecurity for many youngsters.
The current national legislation, which states a person should stop receiving care immediately after turning 18, is unfair and discriminatory. We are aware that usually children do not leave home and begin an independent life upon turning 18.
Therefore, SOS Children’s Villages youth care program does not require care to stop immediately after reaching 18 years of age, unlike the national legislation. After turning 18 the youngster may continue living in an SOS family or begin a semi-independent life (SIL). SIL means the youngsters live in a place of their own; however, continues to receive financial and emotional support from Latvia’s SOS Children’s Villages association.
Through youth care, we aim to prepare a child for an independent life and encourage them to take this step when they are ready.