Although the standard of living has improved in the Czech Republic, more must be done to protect children living in vulnerable families. If children cannot continue to live with their families, they should be cared for in families rather than in institutions.
Vulnerable families need more support
A little girl gets a hug from her SOS mother (photo: SOS archives)
The village of Chvalcov has about 1,600 inhabitants and is situated in Moravia in the south-east of the country, near the provincial towns of Bystrice and Kromeríž, 90 kilometres north-east of Brno. Moravia is known for its beautiful countryside, its historic towns and its wines.
In the nearby Zlin and Olomouc districts, more than 13 per cent of people are threatened by poverty- these are some of the highest rates within the Czech Republic. Given the relatively low wages, it can be hard for single parents to earn enough money to provide for their family. This is especially difficult when single parents are restricted to jobs that fit around available childcare.
In the region around Chvalcov, families who are in vulnerable situations often find it hard to obtain support. More needs to be done so that families are helped and can stay together.
A need to provide children with a loving home and young people with a future
SOS Children's Villages has been very active in the development and implementation of the child protection policies in the Czech Republic. Given the high number of children without parental care, the SOS Children's Villages model of care, where children are looked after in families rather than in state-run institutions, continues to be very important. Children who have grown up in the care of SOS Children’s Villages are individually supported until they can live independently.
What we do in Chvalcov
Looking happy during a party in the SOS Children's Village (photo: SOS archives)
SOS Children's Villages has been present in Chvalcov since 1973.
Strengthen families: SOS Children’s Villages supports struggling families in four locations in the Olomouc District. We provide assistance to families facing a difficult social or financial situation so that the children are not taken into care by the authorities, but rather continue to live with their families. We work with all family members in their homes and neighbourhoods. In collaboration with local organisations, we also work towards strengthening the already existing support networks within the community.
Day care: Near Chvalcov, in a location called Bystrice pod Hostýnem, we run a day care centre (known as SOS Kajuta) where children can spend their free time meaningfully. We also attempt to prevent their social exclusion later on in adulthood. One of the ways in which we try to prevent social exclusion is to tutor children and help them with their schoolwork.
Supporting foster families: Children who can no longer be cared for by their parents, can find a new home in foster families. SOS Children’s Villages provides support to these families. This includes social counselling, psychological help, training of professional skills, services to ease foster parenting and assistance with meeting the children’s biological family.
We organise regular leisure-time activities for children, such as art, music and sport classes. We organize trips, visit museums, exhibitions or go to the cinema, and attend summer camps and other activities.
Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin, so that they can return to live with their families.
In 2017 we started to offer services to foster families in three locations in the Olomouc district, where the family strengthening programme is already providing support to the community.