This will be the home of 12 children and young people aged 13 to 17 from the Sfântul Spiridon placement centre

On February 19, the Hope and Homes for Children Foundation, together with the Iași General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection, opened the Teilor small group home in Târgu Frumos, Iași county. This is the first of four small group homes to be opened this year as part of the closing down of the Sfântul Spiridon placement centre in Târgu Frumos. The house was furnished with the support of JYSK Romania. 

The inauguration was attended by Maricel Popa, Iași County Council President, Lăcrămioara Vernică, Iași County Secretary, Florin Ion, DGASPC Iași General Director, Gabriel Chifu, advisor with the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice, Gabriela Baltag, director of the Sfântul Spiridon Children Social Services Centre, Liviu Apreotesei, JYSK Romania Regional Director, and Radu Tohătan, Social Assistance Department Manager with the Hope and Homes for Children Romania Foundation.

For the children in the Sfântul Spiridon placement centre, the deinstitutionalisation process started in February 2014, through the partnership between Hope and Homes for Children and the Iași General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection. Back then, the centre hosted 215 children and young people, some with learning difficulties and others with slight deficiencies, attending the town’s special needs school. Hope and Homes for Children carried out an individual assessment of the children and identified the most suitable transfer alternative for each of them: reintegration within the immediate or extended family, care, transfer to boarding schools, with family visits at weekends and in the holidays. The young people who were on the verge of leaving the protection system received support through our social and professional integration programme. For some children, in cases where care or family reintegration were unsuitable alternatives, the best solution was the transfer to a small group home, hosting a maximum of 10 to 12 children.

In February 2018, there were still 61 children and young people in the placement centre, aged 12 to 20. 38 children will be transferred to small group homes, and 23 will be sent to boarding schools, but they will have the chance to visit their families. 12 boys aged 13 to 17 have already moved in the new home, where they will live in an environment that is closer to family life, they will receive care, education, emotional support and counselling that will help them develop the skills needed later for an independent life.

“Every time we open a small group home, we open a door towards a prospective future for each child and young person. We thank our partners at DGASPC Iași for working together with us in this county deinstitutionalisation process, and we thank all the Hope and Homes for Children partners and supporters for understanding how important it is for these children to get a second start in life”, said Ștefan Dărăbuș, Hope and Homes for Children regional director for Central and South Europe.

The second small group home that Hope and Homes for Children will open in the closing down of the orphanage has already been finished and the children are about to move in soon. In the fall, the Foundation will finalise the building of the other two small group homes needed for closing down the Sfântul Spiridon placement centre, and the four houses will be furnished and decorated by JYSK Romania. 

“This is the first Hope and Homes for Children home furnished by JYSK in a series of six that we have planned for our first year of working together. It gave me great joy to watch the kids see their new home for the first time and I felt their emotion in the discovery of a friendly, warm home, where they can live together like a family. We are glad to have taken part to changing their lives for the better and we can’t wait to have the other homes opened as well. In the next years, we plan to continue the partnership with Hope and Homes and to furnish several other small group homes. We hope that in the next few years all the children in old type institutions will move to small group homes”, said Alex Bratu, JYSK Romania and Bulgaria Country Manager. 

Iași is the Romanian county with the highest number of old-type institutions. In 1997, the county had 35 placement centres with over 5,000 children. In 2017, only 950 children still remained institutionalised, while 1,450 had been placed in care. Early this year, Hope and Homes for Children and DGASPC Iași finalised the closing down of the Veniamin Costache placement centre and are in the final stages of having two more centres closed down, of the total 11 still remaining in the county: the Ion Holban centre in Iași and the Sfântul Spiridon centre in Târgu Frumos.

In the deinstitutionalisation process, Hope and Homes for Children manages the building of the small group homes, which are then taken over by the county general directorate for social assistance and child protection, while the Foundation continues to monitor the children.

“The closing down of the Child Social Services Centre in Târgu Frumos together with Hope and Homes for Children will improve the children’s quality of living by changing their environment and by involving them in recreational, educational, communication and socialising activities, as well as household chores, facilitated by trained staff that have participated in the lifelong training programme supported by the Foundation. At the same time, with the support of Hope and Homes for Children, we facilitate family reintegration in the immediate, extended or substitute family for an increasingly larger number of children”, said Florin Ion, DGASPC Iași General Director.