Family Based Care

The SOS Children's Village

The first SOS Children's Village was set up by Hermann Gmeiner in Imst (Austria) in 1949. In Bangladesh the first SOS Children's Village was established in Dhaka in 1972.

SOS Children's Villages offers a new home for children who cannot grow up in their biological family or who are either unlikely or unable to return to their families. The SOS Children's Village model is now in place in 132 countries. This form of care is providing a family-based environment for the children.

Our care model is based on four elements:

The mother/parent

The SOS mother is the emotional reference point for the children. She lives with the children that have been placed in her care (an average of five to seven children) as a family member. She shapes the family's daily life with the children and forms reliable and stable relationships with them. People who decide to live with the children receive intensive specialist training. The SOS mothers are supported in their work, which entails many responsibilities, by education specialists and family assistants, as well as other women who are still training to become SOS mothers. More than 5,000 women across the world work in this profession. In some countries it is also possible for SOS couples or fathers to care for an SOS family.

Brothers and sisters

Boys and girls of different ages grow up together as siblings in SOS families. Biological siblings are not separated when they come to the village, which means that larger groups of siblings can also stay together. Children up to the age of ten are taken into the village, but an exception is made if some members of a group of siblings are over the age of ten.

The house

Each SOS family lives in its own house, which the family can organise and fit out according to needs and as they wish. There are now also SOS Children's Villages that are located within housing areas in the city, such as in Austria, Germany, France, Morocco, the Philippines and the USA.

The village

Each SOS Children's Village consists of an average of ten to 15 family houses. Many villages also include a kindergarten that is open to children from the surrounding communities also. SOS Children's Villages are open spaces. We place a strong emphasis on the integration of the children into their surrounding environment, as well as on their exchange and contact with neighbouring communities. Family strengthening programmes and other social services for families and children in need are an integral part of the activities of SOS Children's Villages in many locations.

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