+2348183561908 Route de saint-legier 18a, 1800 vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. 134 Olaitan Odularu Street, Ikate, Surulere,Lagos, Nigeria.

SOS Children’s Villages, Nigeria

The founding principle of SOS Children’s Villages is
that children are best nurtured and protected in a
caring and loving family. The organization’s vision is
that ‘Every child belongs to a family and grows with
love, respect and security’. To achieve this vision,
SOS Children’s Villages is committed to building
families for children in need, helping them shape their
own future, and sharing in the development of their
communities. In addition to managing widespread
education and health programmes, as at 2016 SOS
Children’s Villages Nigeria has created families for
770 children and supported an additional 5,922
vulnerable children at risk of losing parental care in
the Family Strengthening Programme.
Our vision and mission clearly aligns with the United
Nations Guidelines on Alternative Care of Children
(2010), which SOS Children’s Villages International
contributed to the drafting of the document, along with
other the accompanying document.
The United Nations Guidelines on Alternative Care of
Children state:
“…the family being the fundamental group of
society and the natural environment for the
growth, well-being and protection of children…”
“In accordance with the predominant opinion of
experts, alternative care for young children,
especially those under the age of 3 years,
should be provided in family-based settings.”
SOS Children’s Villages: a pioneer in
quality alternative care for children
In 1949, when children without parental care were
frequently placed in orphanages – most often large
and impersonal institutions – SOS Children’s Villages
played a leading role in advocating that the physical,
cognitive and emotional needs of children were
better addressed in smaller and personalized familylike
environments. It thus introduced an entirely new
model of child care that was based on the provision of
a loving family unit with a stable caregiver and
siblings. This concern with providing for the
developmental needs of a child in a family-like setting
made the organization a pioneer in early deinstitutionalization
debates, and continues to be the
trademark of SOS Children’s Villages’ Family-Based
Care programme.
Ensuring child-appropriate solutions
on a case-by-case basis
In order to ensure that children develop in a caring
and loving family environment, SOS Children’s
Villages offers different types of programmes. Most
SOS Villages Nigeria programme participants are
actually being supported by the organization in their
families of origin through the Family Strengthening
Programme. This programme helps parents and
communities build capacities to care for their
children and prevent family breakdown. However,
when a child or youth has no family, or their safety
requires it, SOS Children’s Villages implements the
Family-Based Care (Alternative Care) programme
for children who have lost parental care.
Regardless of the type of service SOS Children’s
Villages offers children and youth, all programmes
are guided by the Children’s Villages Programme
Policy. This means that the organization considers
each child on a case-by-case basis and decides,
after consultation with different stakeholders
(including the child), which alternative care option is
most appropriate for that particular child. Indeed, the
Children’s Villages Programme Policy, which was
published in 2009, explains that ‘based on this
analysis [of the best interests of the child] and
available resources, we develop our programme and
make “tailored” responses to the situation of the
children in our target group.’ This approach, too, is in
line with the United Nations Guidelines for the
Alternative Care of Children.
The way forward
As an organization committed to providing
quality services to children and youth in the most
private and important of settings – the family –
SOS Children’s Villages has had to
professionalize its staff, and homogenize and
monitor its practices. However, as it has been
noticed, through time and by force of
circumstance, some institutional features have crept
into our family based care programme. Some of
these institutionalized features include:
family houses that do not correspond to the socioeconomic
standards of the surrounding community
and are cut off from it by a physical or psychological
wall/fence; administrative buildings that stand side-byside
other facilities like schools and medical centers,
the limitation of the children’s interaction with other
community members as well as the day-to-day details
such as SOS’s purchasing groceries in bulk for the
whole village, signing of registers by youth or mothers
when going out of the facility(ies); or frequent and
disruptive visits by some donors, and SOS
houses/homes that have the names of sponsors on
the walls etc. these contribute to the institutional
atmosphere in our programme location.
SOS Children’s Villages is now working hard to combat
these institutional features by promoting innovation. The
commitment of SOS Children’s Villages to alternative
forms of care that are family-based and attentive to
the social and emotional needs of the child
underlines everything the organization does.
“…based on this analysis [of the best interests of the child]
and available resources, we develop our programme and
make ‘tailored’ responses to the situation of the children in
our target group.”
– SOS Children’s Villages Programme Policy
The way forward for SOS Children’s Villages, as
outlined in its Strategy 2030, is to:
§
Strengthening the care profession and
developing more alternative care partnerships
strengthening;
§ Learn from existing innovative models;
§ Physically and socially integrate SOS families into
the community;
§ Develop and implement a range of other care
responses such as foster care, kinship care; and
partner with other providers of alternative care to
achieve a nationwide improvement in the conditions
of children without parental care.
Throughout the world, SOS Children’s Villages innovative
programmes have already paid off and children are
being well taken care of in a myriad of ways; such as
trained foster parents who may have their own
biological children, in homes indistinguishable from
community houses; and in settings fully integrated with
other community members.
For example, SOS South Africa, in its QwaQwa
location, has facilitated children’s living in community
homes where full-time caretakers are employed by a
community-based organization. SOS Ethiopia, in its
Bahir Dar location, provides another example where
SOS families are being integrated into the community
and living in unfenced homes undistinguishable from
the rest.
SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria has also started to
innovate its alternative care programme by ensuring
that children are not moved to the youth homes as
soon as they reached14-15 years, but remain in the
family houses to provide support for the mothers in the
care of their sibling like in any other normal family.
Implementing the Children’s Villages Programme
Policy and providing quality alternative care through a
range of forms is an ongoing process, with programme
locations at significantly different stages of developing
a range of appropriate alternative care options. SOS
Children’s Villages will continue innovating and
improving, all the while counting on children’s
feedback and keeping their best interest at the core of
all new developments.
SOS Children’s Village in Rustenburg, South Africa
In this community, SOS families live in homes that are comparable to others
in the neighborhood and are fully integrated into the community. SOS
children play on the same streets and attend the same schools as their
neighbors.