MAY 21, 2019

On Tuesday, the 21st of May, Hope and Homes for Children and Kaufland Romania inaugurated the “Felicia” small group home, the first house of this type built by the Foundation within the process of closing down the “Elena Doamna” foster care centre in Piatra Neamț. Due to the financial support provided by Kaufland Romania, the children who are now leaving this centre will have proper living conditions and chances of development for a better start in life after they leave the child protection system. The “Felicia” small group home is the first one established through a partnership between the Foundation and Kaufland Romania running between 2017 and 2020, which foresees the opening of three small group homes in Neamț county and a Transit Centre in Botoșani.

The event was attended by Ionel Arsene, President of the Neamț County Council, Cristina Păvăluță, Director of the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection in Neamț, Katharina Scheidereiter, CSR Manager at Kaufland Romania and Bianca Stegeran, National Deputy Director at Hope and Homes for Children. The house was furnished and decorated entirely with products offered by JYSK Romania.

Hope and Homes for Children started the deinstitutionalisation process (closing down foster care centres) in Neamț county in 2014, in partnership with the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection (DGASPC) in Neamț, through a cooperation protocol foreseeing a fundamental reform of the child protection system throughout the county. At that time, three foster care centres were still open in Neamț, hosting 245 children and young adults. The year 2016 saw the start of the closing down process of the “Elena Doamna” foster care centre, acommodating 108 children. After carrying out individual evaluations, Hope and Homes for Children identified the best transfer alternatives for the children who lived at that foster centre: 20 children were reintegrated in their natural or extended families and support was offered in order to provide the proper conditions when the children returned home, 12 children were placed in foster care, 28 young people left the social protection system and 11 of them were assisted by Hope and Homes for Children to start a life on their own. Hope and Homes for Children is building four small group homes for the 47 children aged between 12 and 24 years old who are currently still living in the “Elena Doamna” foster care centre.

The construction of the “Felicia” small group home started in 2018, as part of the strategic partnership between Hope and Homes for Children and Kaufland Romania, on a land provided by the Neamț County Council. This is the first out of the three homes that are going to be built with the support of Kaufland Romania and put into service in 2020. The fourth small group home, built with the help of another company as part of the process of closing down the “Elena Doamna” foster care centre will be put into service in 2019.

“Kaufland Romania undertook the mission of helping the local community and supports the institutions in their struggle to offer a better life to children in Piatra Neamț. Family is sometimes that handful of people around us who care. This is why the Kaufland Romania family, with over 15.000 members, stands by the 12 children from Piatra Neamț and has decided to support Hope and Homes for Children in building this first house with an investment of 200.000 euro. Two other homes and another transit center in Botoșani county will soon follow. A modern small group home with all facilities, where deinstitutionalised children can live like a family helps them have a healthy development and better chances for a better future. Here, every child has his own desk, his own bed, can use the living-room and the kitchen and is free to play outside in the yard. These things might seem normal, but they mean so much for these kids who haven’t had the chance to enjoy them until now. This way, Kaufland contributes to the process of modernisation of a system that is now offering children the chance to a healthy development, to education, the right to a family environment and a better start in life. Getting involved is what makes the difference.” Katharina Scheidereiter, CSR Manager Kaufland Romania

12 children and young people aged between 11 and 20 years old moved at the end of April into their now home, which was officially inaugurated on 21st of May in the presence of the project’s partners. The event was attended by Ionel Arsene, President of the Neamț County Council, Cristina Păvăluță, Director of the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection in Neamț, Katharina Scheidereiter, CSR Manager at Kaufland Romania and Bianca Stegeran, National Deputy Director at Hope and Homes for Children. The house was furnished and decorated entirely with products offered by JYSK Romania

“Every time we open a new small group home, we open a gateway to the future for a child or young person. This is the first out of four houses built for 47 children and young people from the «Elena Doamna» foster care centre and the first house of this type in the county. We would like to thank our partners from DGASPC Neamț, whom we are helping with the deinstitutionalisation process in the county. We would also like to thank Kaufland Romania, because they understand how important it is for these children to have a new start in life” – declared Bianca Stegeran, National Deputy Director, Hope and Homes for Children

“The inauguration of the first small group home is a tipping point of the social protection system in Neamț county, because the child is placed at the centre of this process and offered personalised services meant to replace as much as possible the care of the parents. Basically, we want to offer these children a family and a place they can really call “home”, a true launch pad towards a better future. I am glad that the first house inaugurated in the county is “Felicia”, because the name seems destined to change the future of these children. Felicia means happiness and we truly hope that «happy» will be the word describing the children living here. This step makes us feel excited and grateful at the same time to all who have made this dream possible. Thank you, Hope and Homes for Children for the effort and involvement in changing the destinies of these children and many thanks to the County Council for thier unconditional support. We would like to thank everyone who believed in the chance of these wonderful children and you are welcome to the inauguration of future houses.” – declared Cristina Păvăluță, Director of DGASPC Neamț

All small group homes built by Hope and Homes for Children are designed to offer children a family environment, to the extent possible. Such homes can host up to 10- 12 children who receive accomodation, care, education, emotional support and counseling in order to develop independent living skills. After the construction works are finished and the houses are put into service, Hope and Homes for Children donates them to the partner with whom they collaborate, in this case DGASPC Neamț, but they continue to implement the accommodation plans developed together with the staff members for every child and monitor the children and staff on the long term, in order to proactively prevent possible issues. This house is the 106th small group home built by Hope and Homes for Children in Romania.

Hope and Homes for Children has set as its principal objective to close down all the old-type institutions, the so called orphanages, until 2026. The Foundation’s programmes seek to replace the institutionalised child protection system with one based around the concept of family, by reuniting families when possible and by placing children from orphanages in foster care or in small group homes.