Hope and Homes for Children launched the child-family separation prevention programme in 2001, in order to help families with a high risk of abandoning their children in orphanages. The program is financed with the help of Farmexpert and Alphega pharmacies, among other sponsors. Every year, the program helps over 2,000 children to remain with their families.

In early 2018, a mother and her three sons, Alin, Aurel and Anton, entered the programme. Alin is 16 and is a 9th grade student at a theoretical upper secondary school. Aurel is 10 and in 3rd grade, and Anton is 4 and goes to kindergarten. The children and their mother share a house they inherited from the grandparents, a brick building that has one room and a kitchen. In spite of their modest living conditions, the children are well cared for and go to school.

The parents divorced, and the three boys were legally entrusted to the mother, the father having to pay alimony. But the father went to work in Norway and, since August 2017, has been unable to pay the monthly allowance, and due to health problems is hospitalized in a recovery centre in Norway.

Without the father’s material support, the mother is facing financial difficulties and she cannot cover the boys’ basic needs, mostly food, clothing and footwear. The children risk having to abandon school, and their situation drew the attention of local authorities, who might have requested the separation of children from their mother due to precarious living conditions.

But the local authorities contacted Hope and Homes for Children and the family was included in the child-family separation prevention programme. The first step was for the Hope and Homes for Children specialists to analyse the family’s situation and to draft an intervention plan on two dimensions: material and financial support and counselling.

The family received food products to help supplement and diversify the children’s diet, clothing and footwear, stationery products to help the children stay in school and to prevent them from being marginalized and discriminated; personal hygiene and cleaning products, which also contribute to the children being kept and integrated at school.

Moreover, the mother received counselling to help her find a job and draft a CV, to help her access state welfare benefits and health insurance and services, as well as the pending alimony from the father. She was guided on how to use their resources and how to save, so that in the future she can cover the expenses necessary to support the three boys. In March, with the help of the Norwegian authorities, the mother and the three children managed to visit the former husband and went to several job interviews.

Thanks to all these measures, taken with the support of Farmexpert and Alphega Pharmacies when the family needed help the most, the separation of the children from their mother was avoided. In the near future, Hope and Homes for Children will continue to support the family, and when the family leaves the programme, they will be monitored, to prevent them from returning to the initial conditions.