The Hope and Homes for Children Foundation and NN announce a new strategic partnership by means of which 150 young people from the socio-professional integration programme for young people leaving the child protection system will be helped to develop skills for an independent life and for a successful integration into society. With the help of the 200.000 euro investment secured by NN throughout three years, young people will receive counseling and material support, recommendations to find a job and will be able to attend vocational training courses.

Every year, approximately 3.000 young people aged between 18 and 27 leave the child protection system without being prepared for an independent life or having a very limited experience, and the staff interacting with them is rarely trained to help them in this respect. They represent a very vulnerable category exposed to the risk of social exclusion and marginalisation because they find it difficult to get a job (being subject to unemployment), they are exposed to vagrancy and delinquency, they don’t have a home or the means to either buy or rent one, they often become victims of crime, drug use and sexual exploitation, they have no family and no means of subsistence.

Having been initially abandoned by the mother or the family, after leaving the institutions they grew up in, they are abandoned by the society, the state, the specialists and, ultimately, by everyone. It is known that during institutionalisation, children and young people rarely acquire the social and professional skills needed further in life. They are “used” to having everything handed to them on a plate, they often don’t know how to manage their money and they are emotionally insecure, therefore entering a state where they are totally dependent on someone (an educator or instructor from the foster care centre). This is why the transition from living in an institution to independent living is, in most cases, doomed to failure.

Due to the partnership between Hope and Homes for Children and NN, 50 young people will receive counseling and material support, job recommendations and vocational training courses. These are the key prerequisites for the successful integration on the labour market and in society of young people leaving the system.

“The harmonious development of a child begins in the early stages of life, if he is being offered affection, unconditional support and guidance throughout his education and later on, his career. Unfortunately, children who grow up in the social protection system don’t receive any of that and have major difficulties when they reach adulthood and have to make it on their own. Here, at the NN, we know that we cannot compensate for most of the shortcomings faced by young people leaving the social protection system, but we believe that through specialised counceling and even financial support, we can help them have a better start in the adult life and lay the foundations of a better future”- Anna Grzelonska, CEO, NN Romania

The institutional partners of the project are the General Directorates of Social Assistance and Child Protection, the Local Councils, the Public Services for Social Care, the County Employment Services active in the counties where Hope and Homes for Children run the socio-professional integration programme for young people leaving the child protection system and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Elderly.

“Through the socio-professional integration programme, Hope and Homes for Children wishes to help young people leaving the child protection system who, without being prepared for an independent life or having a very limited experience, have to face a society which looks at them with suspicion and doesn’t give them much of a chance. Only by helping them become independent and facilitating their access to a minimum professional training will these young people be able to live on their own, without becoming a burden for the society. We are glad that our partners from NN have understood how important this start in life is for a vulnerable young person. We

are happy that they are going to keep supporting our effort through counseling programmes, material support and vocational training courses. If these people are granted access to education and adequate living conditions, they will be able to pursue a career, and this will facilitate their integration into society. From 2002, when we first started our support programmes for young people leaving the child protection system, we have helped 1.168 young people have access to an independent life. With the help of NN, their number shall grow” Ștefan Dărăbuș, Regional Manager for Central and South-Eastern Europe, Hope and Homes for Children

This is the second partnership between Hope and Homes for Children and NN supporting vulnerable children and young people in our country. Throughout 2017, the two partners have succesfully implemented the programme “Health for a better life”, through which 80 children included in the Foundation’s programmes benefited from medical interventions and treatments, and other 160 children received counseling on how to have a healthy lifestyle. The programme focused on covering the health needs of vulnerable children: both by facilitating their access to basic and special medical services, but also by running counseling and education campaigns for the adoption of a healthier lifestyle. The direct beneficiaries of the funds donated by NN were the institutionalised children and young people, those who now live in small group homes, people who go to daycare centers, but also the mothers and children in emergency reception facilities, and the young people who have left the social protection system.