On 13 August, at the same time two family homes were officially opened and started operating, Hope and Homes for Children and the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection (DGASPC) Iași closed down the foster care centre belonging to the “Sfântul Spiridon” Social Services Complex from the town of Târgu Frumos. The small group homes “Spartanii” (The Spartans) and “Motanul încălțat” (Puss in Boots) are the last two homes out of the four built by the Foundation in the process of closing down the centre. JYSK România provided furniture and decorations for the homes.

The following took part in the event: Maricel Popa (President of the County Council of Iași), Florin Ion (general director of DGASPC Iași), Ionel Vatmanu (mayor of Târgu Frumos), Radu Tohătan (manager of the Social Assistance Department of Hope and Homes for Children), Gabriela Baltag (director of the Complex for Social Services “Sfântul Spiridon”), as well as Liviu Apreotesei (District Manager) and Ioana Popescu (store manager) from JYSK România.

The Foster Care Centre “Sfântul Spiridon” is the 58th orphanage closed down by Hope and Homes for Children in Romania. In the process of closing down these institutions, the Foundation built 109 small group homes.

The Foster Care Centre within the Social Services Complex “Sfântul Spiridon” in Târgu Frumos is the second old-style institution in Iași county closed down by Hope and Homes for Children Foundation and DGASPC Iași as a result of the partnership started in 2014. The closedown process of the foster care centre started in February 2014 – at that time it hosted 178 boys. Over time, while some children left the institutions, another 37 entered the child protection system, so the target group reached 215 children. At the moment, as the small group homes “Spartanii” and “Motanul încălțat” were launched, all children left the foster care centre, which was closed down.

Throughout the five years of work to close down the foster care centre, the two partners carried out a complex individual assessment process of the children and identified the best transfer alternatives for each and every one of them. From the 215 children in the target group, 10 were moved in centres for adults, 151 were reintegrated in their natural or extended families, with Hope and Homes for Children contributing to providing the necessary conditions for their reintegration, and 15 young people over 18 years old left the protection system, receiving support for a successful integration in society by means of the socio-professional integration programme.

“This year we celebrate five years of collaboration and partnership with Hope and Homes for Children – throughout these years we set several objectives, which we achieved: closing down a foster care centre with enormous support from the Foundation, opening a day centre for children with special intellectual capabilities in Iași – this is the “Bucium” Day Centre. Today we launch the last two homes out of the four homes which mark the closing down of the Târgu Frumos centre. Out of the 48 children in the four homes build in the project, 38 come from the “Sfântul Spiridon” Foster Care Centre, the others from two centres in Iași. The collaboration with Hope and Homes for Children was extraordinary and we wish it to be continued, as we have other important goals: closing down the “ Ion Holban” Foster Care Centre and assuring family reintegration and socio-professional integration of the children in the “Bucium” and “C.A. Rosetti” Foster Care Centres. - Florin Ion, general director, DGASPC Iași

38 children moved in four small group homes developed by the Foundation. The number of necessary small group homes was determined in an assessment process of the number of children who had no other transfer alternatives and will have to stay in the child protection system, but also by preventively estimating a number of children who will enter the system in the future or will be moved from other foster care centres.

The first small group home, “Casa Teilor” (Linden House), was started operating in February 2018. The second small group home, “Petru Rareș”, was opened on 17 August 2018. The last two family homes, “Spartanii” and “Motanul încălțat”, the names of which were chosen by the children who were to live in them, were officially opened on 13 August this year. All four houses were provided furniture and decorations by JYSK România.

“Closing down the “Sfântul Spiridon” Foster Care Centre is a start. It is also an end, because we are forever closing down the second largest foster care centre in Romania. The “Ion Holban” foster care centre, also in Iași county, is the only one where more children lived than in the one in Târgu Frumos. This is a moment which maybe is not perceived as so important, but it is a key moment for child protection in Romania, now that we feel the process of closing down foster care centres gaining speed. Shutting down a centre with over 200 children is an important feat, which could affect other counties in Romania which may still have significant work to do in this field. Radu Tohătan, manager, Social Assistance Department of Hope and Homes for Children

12 boys between 15 and 19 from the “Sfântul Spiridon” Foster Care Centre moved in the “Spartanii” House, their new home, a two-storey building, with four bedrooms, living rooms, two baths and a kitchen, all very spacious, welcoming and adapted to their needs. The “Motanul încălțat” House welcomed children from two old-type institutions: 9 children from the “C. A. Rosetti” Foster Care Centre and 3 children from the Emergency Shelter Centre in Iași.

The following took part in the event: Maricel Popa (President of the County Council of Iași), Florin Ion (general director of DGASPC Iași), Ionel Vatmanu (mayor of Târgu Frumos), Radu Tohătan (manager of the Social Assistance Department of Hope and Homes for Children), Gabriela Baltag (director of the Complex for Social Services “Sfântul Spiridon”), as well as Liviu Apreotesei (District Manager) and Ioana Popescu (store manager) from JYSK România. A performance of a magician animator contributed to the setting, which helped the children enjoy their new, welcoming and beautiful home even more, this place where they will create memories and envisage plans for the future from now on.

All small group homes build by Hope and Homes for Children provide children with a family-like environment. This kind of home hosts at most 10-12 children who enjoy shelter, care, education, emotional support and counselling for an independent life. Once the buildings are finished and start operating, Hope and Homes for Children donates the small group homes to its collaborating partner, in this case DGASPC Iași, but keeps applying the accommodation programmes which were devised together with working staff for each end every child and keeps monitoring the children and staff on the long term, in order to proactively prevent the possible problems.

At the moment, Iași is the county having the most old-type institutions. In 1997, this county had 35 foster care centres which hosted more than 5 000 children. In 2009, there are 10 foster care centres left, whereas approximately 800 children live in institutions and small group homes, while 1 500 children are in maternal care. In the first part of 2018, Hope and Homes for Children and DGASPC Iași completed closing down the “Veniamin Costache” Foster Care Centre, while this year they also finalised the closedown of the foster care centre in the “Sfântul Spiridon” Social Services Complex in Târgu Frumos. The two partners also plan to close down the Foster Care Centres “Ion Holban”, “Bucium” and “C. A. Rosetti” in Iași.

Hope and Homes for Children aims for the closedown of all old-type institutions, so called orphanages, in Romania until 2026. The Foundation’s programmes aim to replace the institutionalised child protection system with a one based on the family concept, by reintegrating the children in the family whenever possible and placing the ones in orphanages in maternal care or small group homes.

“Our company is a foreign enterprise involved in many social projects, of which Hope and Homes for Children is one of the most important. We finished two years of collaboration and started our third year, when we reached 10 homes developed by Hope and Homes for Children for 120 children, which JYSK România provided with furniture. Our company aspires to offer something in return to the society in which we operate, and I am personally proud to know a part of my work somehow goes to these children in one way or another. A small part from each and every one of us might be insignificant to us, but could mean a lot to them.” - Liviu Apreotesei, District Manager, JYSK România