12 children from the foster care centre within

“Saint Spiridon” Social Services Complex have moved here

On Friday, August 17th, Hope and Homes for Children and the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection (DGASPC) Iași opened the small group home "Petru Rareș" in Târgu Frumos. This is the second small group home build by the Foundation in the process of closing down the foster care centre within the "Saint Spiridon" Social Services Complex in Târgu Frumos. The event was attended by actor Marius Manole, Hope and Homes for Children Ambassador, Florin Ion, General Director of DGASPC Iași, Gabriela Baltag, Director of the "Saint Spiridon" Social Services Complex for Children, Radu Tohătan, Manager of the Operations Department at Hope and Homes for Children. The house was furnished and decorated with the support of JYSK Romania.

The process of closing down the foster care centre within the "Saint Spiridon" Social Services Complex in Târgu Frumos began in February 2014, through a partnership between Hope and Homes for Children and DGASPC Iași. Back then, 215 boys lived

in the centre, now there are only 30, aged 12 to 20 years old. Based on their assessments, Hope and Homes for Children has identified the best transfer alternatives and has created four small group homes. The first small group home, called "Teilor" House, was created by Hope and Homes for Children with the support of its partners and opened in February 2018. The second small-group home, called "Petru Rareș", was opened in August 17th, 12 boys already moving in. Two other small group homes are due to be opened this year, all of them being furnished and decorated with the support of JYSK Romania.

The 12 boys aged 10 to 16 years old have moved into their new home, a two-storey building, with four bedrooms, a living room, two bathrooms and a kitchen, all very roomy, welcoming and adapted to their needs. With Marius Manole’s help, Hope and Homes for Children Ambassador, and the other guests who attended the event, the children planted trees near the house to make it as welcoming and beautiful as possible.

"A group of 12 young people are moving in the small group home " Petru Rareș". Of the 214 children and young people, who lived in the institution when the project started, 48 are transferred to small group homes, and most of the other 166 have been reintegrated into their biological families or are supported to become independent and stand on their own. The 12 young people will live in an ordinary neighbourhood, between ordinary people and will enjoy their normal lives, just as any young person in an ordinary family. After all, we do nothing but to give them back their stolen childhood as much as they have left.” — Ștefan Dărăbuș, Regional Director, Central and South Europe, Hope and Homes for Children

All small group homes built by Hope and Homes for Children offer children and young people an environment as similar as possible to a family. In a house, there are 10-12 children at most. They enjoy accommodation, care, education, emotional support and counselling for the development of independent living skills. Once the construction is over and the house is ready to be used, Hope and Homes for Children donates the small group homes to the partner with whom it collaborates, in this case DGASPC Iași, but continues to implement the accommodation plans, prepared together with the staff members for each child and to monitor, on the long term, children and staff members to proactively prevent any problems. This is the 105th home built by Hope and Homes for Children in Romania.

“For us, home is the place where we feel best, the place where we can be ourselves, where we feel comfortable and relaxed. Until now, these 12 young people didn’t have a place they could call "home". They didn't have a family. They didn't have their own bed or their belongings. They only had a roof over their heads. Now, with the opening of the small group home Petru Rareș, these teenagers are going to live in a place that can really be called “home”. They will grow up in an environment similar to a family and will do what every child does together with the family, which will help them to better integrate into adult life. We are glad that we have played a role in providing a welcoming and comfortable home for these teenagers. This is the fifth house we have furnished and, as it was the case with every other houses, it was a pleasure to see the enthusiasm of the children when they moved in."— Alex Bratu, Country Manager JYSK Romania and Bulgaria

Iasi is the county where most of the old-type institutions still exist. In 1997, there were 35 foster care centres, where over 5,000 children were institutionalized. In 2017, the number of children in institutions and small group apartments reached 950, while 1,450 children lived with foster parents. Earlier this year, Hope and Homes for Children and DGASPC Iași have closed down the "Veniamin Costache" Foster Care Centre and is in the process of closing down two more foster care centres out of the 11 remaining in the county: "Ion Holban" in Iași and "Saint Spiridon" in Târgu Frumos. During the deinstitutionalization process, Hope and Homes for Children builds small group homes, which they then hand over for administration to the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection in the county, continuing to monitor children.

Hope and Homes for Children intends to close down all the old-type institutions in Romania, the so-called orphanages, until 2026. The Foundation's programmes aim to replace the institutionalized child protection system with a system based on the family concept, by reintegrating children from orphanages into their families when possible, sending them to live with foster parents or in small group homes. In these homes, there are 12 children at most and young people have the opportunity to live in a family-like environment. They enjoy care, education, emotional support and counselling for the development of independent living skills.

"The benefits of closing down the Social Services Complex for Children in Târgu Frumos in collaboration with Hope and Homes for Children are increasing the quality of children's lives by changing the environment and constantly stimulating children and young people by engaging them in recreational, household, educational, communication and socialization activities organised by staff members trained by continuous training programmes supported through the Foundation. Furthermore, this facilitates the reintegration into the biological, extended or substitute family of a larger number of children with the support provided by Hope and Homes for Children.” — Florin Ion, General Director of DGASPC Iași