The Transit, Assistance and Counselling Centre for youth leaving the child protection system was inaugurated at Baia Mare
Annually, more than 3,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 27 are forced to leave the child protection system without any sort of arrangements for independent living or, in the best cases, with extremely limited training as staff members who interact with these young people are rarely trained to help in this regard.
The socio-professional insertion of young people who leave the system is an essential component of the child protection reform in Romania. The initiative of building the Transit, Assistance, and Counselling Centre for young people leaving the child protection system in Baia Mare started from the fact that there is a severe lack of state support for these young people and that specialists in the system do not have a tradition of planning and effective management of youth transition to independent living. The construction of the centre began in November 2015 with financial support from Kaufland Romania, on land provided by the Municipality of Baia Mare.
The Transit, Assistance, and Counselling Centre has a capacity of 19 seats in studios and was built with the aim to solve the critical issue of housing, but also of education and of assistance for vulnerable young people so that they can begin an independent life and have access to a job in the county of Maramureș. Here, young people leaving the child protection system can benefit of accommodation for a period between 6 and 24 months, and of permanent support from a social worker, a psychologist, and a nurse. Meanwhile, they receive the food allowance established by law, and the utilities costs are covered by the Public Social Service (SPAS) of Baia Mare. After the first 6 months, young people will have to pay a fixed rent, and those with disabilities will have to pay only 50% of the amount.
At the opening ceremony of the Transit Centre, along with representatives of Hope and Homes for Children participated Dragoș Pîslaru, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Protection and Protection of the Elderly, which conveyed a message about the importance of the socio-professional insertion of young people who leave state institutions and how society can support them for better integration. Also attending the event were Sebastian Lupuț, prefect of Maramureș, Gabriel Zetea, President of Maramureș County Council, Marinel Rob, acting mayor of Baia Mare, Ștefan Dărăbuş, Regional Director Hope and Homes for Children for Central and Southern Europe, Marco Hößl, CEO of Kaufland Romania, Maria Gheorghiu, Counsellor of State in the Prime Minister's Office, and Bogdan Gavra, Director of Public Social Service at the Baia Mare City Hall, as well as local partners and young people who moved to the newly opened centre.
Chef Adrian Hădean, a loyal supporter of Hope and Homes for Children Foundation, spent more time with the young, accompanied them to shopping and offered advice on how to organize their shopping and food so as not to waste. The young took advantage of the time spent with Chef Hădean to find out as much information as possible about how to effectively run a household.
Ionuț, one of the residents of the centre, received from Dragoș Bucurenci equipment to make music: a computer, a mixer, a synthesizer, a microphone, a station, etc. Ionuț will soon turn 19 years old. He was abandoned after birth and reached an establishment in Cavnic (Maramureș County), along with other 90 children up to 4 years of age. After closing the institution by Hope and Homes for Children in the late 90s, Ionuț arrived in a small group home, built by the foundation, and left state care. Once the child turned 18, he had to leave the small group home and move into the new centre built by the organization. During the event, Ionuț prepared a musical moment together with Claudius, another resident at the centre, which concluded the opening.
After the opening, the Centre was donated to SPAS Baia Mare, and will continue to operate under the close monitoring of Hope and Homes for Children Foundation. The organization was in charge of the training of specialists from Baia Mare SPAS, which manages the project, and the training process would continue after the period of implementation and monitoring.
Ștefan Dărăbuş, Regional Director Hope and Homes for Children, Central and Southern Europe: "Young people who come in care are particularly vulnerable. Without family, without a support network, without parents to let them stay in their house or to help as ordinary young people get helped, they are forced to confront life, "armed" with a pillow and a blanket in hand when they leave the orphanages. Many of them end up as cannon fodder, in the hands of those who know how to manipulate them. Discouraged, unaccustomed to living independently, they face challenges unprepared and without the armour offered by confidence that being raised in families usually nurtures. For this they need support. That's why we built this transit centre, where the safety of a home can get them job security and, ultimately, can let them able to stand on their two feet. Everyone needs support for a good start in life. Especially those who have suffered from a childhood without parents and no family."
Dragos Pîslaru, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Protection of the Elderly: "For too long social assistance was considered charity, mercy. This is not about charity; it's about taking on the economic and social development of the country. Romania of the 2020s and beyond is a Romania that prevents situations of marginalization, which migrates to a system where we are jointly responsible for the fates of these vulnerable people. And by opening this centre we open our eyes to this fact, the centre is a symbol of the clear, new political alignment between state institutions, between public and private sectors and between the central and local authorities in terms of how we commit to a solidary and cohesive Romania in the future."
Marco Hößl, CEO of Kaufland Romania: "We, at Kaufland Romania, have the conviction that we need to provide young and dynamic people with a chance, regardless of circumstances or condition of origin. This is why, in addition to our financial support for the construction of the Transit Centre, we want to offer support to youth in their future activities."
Dragoș Bucurenci: "I asked for my birthday to receive help in giving Ionuț, a young man who leaves the protection system of the state, a laptop to help him pursue his passion and to begin the right way his life as a grown-up. The donations received exceeded my expectations – Ionuț had a big surprise today, September 20, when he received the gift: it was not just an ultra-powerful laptop, but all the necessary equipment to make professional music and get to earn a living from it."
Chef Adrian Hădean: "We are all equally responsible of the education and the children’s future. The family or the state through specialized institutions are not enough. Children live and grow up in a society, which has also a moral duty to get involved in their development and training. Even if we speak of a different level of involvement than the one of the family, we are somehow responsible to contribute, even if by example and by support, as much as it is in our power to do so. And even more so, for those whose parents are not present, for whatever reason."