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SOS Social Centres in Latvia

In Latvia there are currently four Social Centres for children and the local community, including those in Riga, Olaine County and Valmiera.  Many SOS Social Centres operate via Family Strengthening Programmes, which aim to support the wider community.  Below is some information about some of the Social Centres that SOS Children runs in Latvia:

SOS Social Centres around Latvia: In-Depth

Valmiera FSP family in Valmeira, Latvia

Work and Achievements:

Cooperation with 92 families and 189 children is still continuing within the family strengthening project in Valmiera at the end of year 2009. During the whole year, 162 families with 309 children have participated in the project benefiting from the project’s supportive services. The average number of beneficiaries per month is 212 children, or 109 families. According to risk levels we have 33% A level or high risk families, 43% of B or medium risk level, 24% are families at low risk who have applied for project’s support themselves or have been suggested by our partner organisations.

The Centre consults psychologists, psychotherapy doctors, lawyers, Montessori therapists and speech therapists. Consultations of social workers and social rehabilitation workers have been provided, and home visits performed.

One of the main objectives of the Project is preventive work with families, promoting the improvement of parental skills, so that parents are able to: take care of ensuring basic needs of their children, create a psycho-emotional balance in the family, provide a safe and supportive environment and meet the emotional needs of their children.

Another important aim is to promote the socialization of children in society by teaching them safe functioning, meaningful and suitable free time activities and understanding of their rights and obligations.

In order to reach these targets many group activities were organized for parents and for children, as well as joint educational and recreational activities for whole families:

•    4-8 parents are regularly attending a support group of parents

•    2 thematic educational activities have taken place for project’s parents;

•    7 group activities have taken place for parents of high risk families;

•    10 educational group activities for children about communication, self-defence and social life skills had been organized, as well as

•    8 project activities for families promoting communication and good interaction between parents and their children.

Our team has also encouraged participation of families and children in two activities organised by the city as a gift to the Project’s participants.

RigaFSP children from Valmeira, Latvia

Work and Achievements:

The main aims of project “Family strengthening and support in Vidzeme and Centre districts of Riga city” in 2009, have been to create understanding in parents about their children as the most important value in family; to draw attention to grownups’ responsibility for childrens health, wellbeing, morals; and to motivate parents and caretakers to think about their family as a basic value. By offering services of psychologists and psychotherapy doctors family values were strengthened through changes in perception of relationship. Children who have suffered from emotional violence, intolerance and rejection have been involved into activities promoting for growth of their self-esteem, development of social and creative skills, for creation of socially acceptable behaviour models. Preservation and strengthening of family values was encouraged by exploring cultural environment and acquiring new information.

94 families with 163 children are the project’s participants at the end of year 2009. These are 30% high risk families, 40% of medium risk level and 30% are families at low risk situation.

Different services were offered to the project’s families last year: consulting of psychologist, psychotherapy doctor – narcologist, family psychotherapist and special teacher.

Parents and children have also participated in:

•    24 activities within support groups for parents of teenage kids;

•    12 activities for teenagers with deviant behaviour and problems of addiction;

•    5 motivation group activities for parents of high risk families;

•    11 kids participated in preventive educational programme “Jimba’s Safety Journey” with main aim of training personal safety skills in communication with other people;

•    30 kids participated in recreational educational activities – excursion to Riga Zoo;

•    With project’s support 3 kids (grade 4) took part in competition of drawings “My School friends” organised by Riga Addiction prevention centre and Riga City council;

•    4 mothers were provided with transportation support to attend “Emotional Education of Children” training group;

Children were encouraged to attend creative activities in the Social Centre

Olaine County

Work and achievements:

In 2009 the project „Family strengthening and support in Olaine County” has reached the maximum number of families and children who have received our services.

In July 2009 Olaine city and Olaine County converged into one administrative territory. Those changes at first created lots of concern in the community and project’s team regarding future of the project but luckily the new administration have foreseen necessary co-financing in their budget even in spite of difficult economic situation in Latvia in general and Olaine territory in particular. Thus support for project’s activities was continued and families of our region still have the possibility of receiving necessary assistance.

122 families, 206 children and 195 caregivers have been offered psycho-social support, rehabilitation and support services in order to provide help and assistance to families facing serious problems and difficulties in care of their children, social problems influencing their optimal functioning. Among reasons of such growth of number of families accepted as project’s beneficiaries are: territorial reform, long period of illness of social worker being responsible for families with children in Social service of municipality, staff changes etc. Project’s capacity does not allow taking new families/clients into project in 2010.

As the result of work of project’s team several risk factors affecting children safety are eliminated in project’s families. Parents and caregivers have been supported and educated about issues of child care, development, social skills through consulting of different specialists, as well as participation in different educational groups. Children have been assisted in successful social integration. Different recreational, cultural and educational activities for families and children were provided for, several free time recreation camps were arranged during school holiday periods, thus teaching children alternative ways of spending their free time, encouraging good communication patterns.

In 2009 project provided:

•    208 hours of psychologist’s consulting for kids;

•    178,5 hours of psychologist’s consulting for caregivers;

•    51 consulting of speech therapist for preschool and primary school children;

•    557 consultings of special teacher for children and their caregivers;

•    93 hours of legal consulting;

•    61 hour of psychotherapy doctor/narcologist consulting.

Regular inter-institutional supervisions are provided for team of specialists working within local community. New professionals of social work dealing with issues of children and family in our community have joined the team of our experts.

We have noticed higher activity amongst community members – families expressing willingness to join the project and using offered services.

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