THIS PROJECT IS NO LONGER OPERATIONAL. WE ARE LEAVING THIS ONLINE FOR REFERENCE

(The centre was moved to a new location that belongs to the County Child Protection and the new service is coordinated by them with FSC’s partnership).

Romanian Street Children

Romania has an estimated 6,000 children living on the streets. Our team works daily with them to identify children at risk before they are irreparably damaged by street culture.

Children are admitted to our safe house "Casa Pistruiatul". The aim is to integrate them back into mainstream education. We also work long-term with family support programmes to reunite children with their families - where this is possible.


THE NEED

Transition to a free market economy has left Romania a staggering 8 times poorer than 10 years ago with 44% of Romanians living in poverty. However, this figure rises to 80% in rural areas of the North East where we work.

This has had a devastating effect on family life. Facing extreme poverty, many parents resort to home-made alcohol. Their children face the resulting brutality and a life of enforced begging or stealing. More and more children are running away to escape these hardships.

The children migrate via the railway network and congregate in large city stations. Most children admitted to our house have a history of abuse at home.

Historically, the state has only intervened once a child is in trouble with the police and has a criminal record. For the children to have any chance of a healthy future, this is too late.

OUR BACKGROUND IN THE RESCUE AND CARE OF children

Our team has set up a project - now in its 5th year - which rescues, cares for and rehabilitates the homeless children living on the streets of Bacau city (population 300,000).

The project has the support and acclaim of the local authorities and Romanian Child Protection Department with whom we work closely while maintaining operational independence. The City Council has provided a house in the centre of town and pays the utilities bills.

Since its inception, we have rescued a total of 367 children from the streets of Bacau. The youngest of these was four years old.

Of these children, 63 have been reunited with their families, 90 have been fostered with Romanian families, 18 have been adopted by Romanians and 70 have remained with us at the safe house until they have left with a job and accommodation.

Sadly, 110 children have run away. The frequent "run-aways" are usually the older children who have been on the streets a long time and have migrated to Bacau from elsewhere. Their independence and, often, substance abuse, makes it difficult for them to adapt to a more regulated life.

We have 16 children currently resident with us.

OUR CURRENT "children'S " PROJECT

We provide a uniquely comprehensive package of care for homeless children comprising:

A care team of:

1 coordinator
1 social worker
1 pschologist/administrator
1 arts and crafts teacher (part-time)
6 teachers
1 nurse
1 cook
1 cleaner
1 general carer
2 week-end night carers

With 16 resident children, this is a high staff/child ratio reflecting the intensive care the children need. There is also family tracing, follow-up and support to be undertaken, shift work and night duty.

Daily outreach work

Our social worker together with a social worker from the Bacau Department of Child Protection and from another charity that is active in Bacau - Betania - visit the streets of Bacau every day to identify the homeless and begging children. Betania (a Dutch charity) provides us with a minibus for this activity.

The team gets to know the children, distributes food and gains their confidence. Where children have parents locally, a lot of effort is made to set up a meeting with them.

In consultation with the county Department of Child Protection, a plan of action is agreed upon and the children are admitted to our safe house, Casa Pistruiatul.

 

About the safe house - Casa Pistruiatul

"Pistruiatul" ("The Freckled Boy") is a famous Romanian folk tale of a homeless child.

The safe house accommodates up to 16 children. It has girls and boys bedrooms, study areas, a medical room, arts and computer workrooms as well as the normal facilities found in any home.

We also provide drop-in day care facilities for children who are not admitted for long term care. This means that older children who do not wish to be admitted to the full programme, still have access to consistent medical care, showers, food and support services.

MONITORING

The project undergoes continuous internal monitoring, it is assessed regularly by the local city council and annually by the Relief Fund for Romania. Monthly financial and quarterly narrative reports are supplied to us.

A recent external evaluation stated - "… a key player in the local community and a role model for other NGOs on how to develop services in a poor community…the service provision is carried out in a professional manner…with good training, planning and monitoring of services…"

('Opportunity Associates' the lead Romanian NGO training and evaluation service, May 2002)


WHY IS THIS PROJECT IMPORTANT?

Children who run away are very vulnerable in their first few days on the streets. Our project aims to identify and rescue these children very early in their street life and give them a new chance for a healthy and happy future.

Unless we continue to reach these children early on, they are soon lost to the influences of street life - petty crime, glue sniffing, living in the sewers in winter to keep warm, prostitution and arrest. All of these children start out as innocent victims. Some are as young as 4 years old.

Our project offers solutions that are sensitive to each child's need and wishes - whether this be reintegration with their family, fostering, adoption or long term care with us.

OUR children'S PROJECT PARTNERS

Fundatia de Sprijin Comunitar - FSC (Community Support Foundation ) is an independent, registered Romanian Charity set up by former Relief Fund for Romania key personnel. They also have projects delivering home care to the elderly sick, therapeutic arts in orphanages and psychiatric hospitals and health care to remote rural areas.

Testimonial on our partners:

"… a crucial feature of all the FSC projects I visited was the dedication of the staff…they continue to display such care towards the people whom they are helping that this contributes significantly to their quality of life. I remain very impressed by this organization and its operating style"

(Dr John Chandler, PhD British Executive Services Overseas monitoring report June 2002)

 

September 2002

 

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