Ok. Yes. The title is a bit strange. Uniting families around foster homes? It is a bit contradictory. But no, it is actually a reality. Unfortunately, many children are abused by their parents or relatives and it is a never ending the story and a spiral of sadness, silence, and depression.
Many of those children have siblings. They have lived the same situation and have lived in foster homes due to their problems. Some people may think that this is somewhat impossible because it is almost impossible to abuse 2 or 3 children at the same time. Or, how many families have more than 2 children and abuse them both? Is the number enough to create an institution that focuses on families getting together around foster homes? Well, it is and there are families with this type of description.
SOS Illinois is that charity that is helping children get together with their siblings live in a foster home with a feeling of hope and love in the house and in the community around the foster home. Let’s take a look at what are they all about and how they came to be and started helping children in the area of Illinois.
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois addresses the problem of foster homes in a totally different way. They have a model where children can live in a home where they are loved and taught and where they are stable and live normal problems a child can have while living within a caring home. Also, the idea is to unite families by getting siblings together around that one home which provides a full-time, professionally trained Foster Parent and that is located in one of SOS Illinois´ villages. Here, children are supported by almost everyone: the community, their SOS foster parents, and the organization.
The village and foster parents include the following: individual and group meeting to give advice on day to day topics; mentoring programs to help children know what they want to be later in life; , and educational and cultural enrichment programs to give them the necessary information to understand their past and not repeat it in the future. This entire atmosphere gives the foster children the opportunity to live in a supportive community where they can feel safe, secure, encouraged and motivated to reach their full potential as adults.
SOS Illinois has a parent too. Their father is SOS Kinderdorf International which is the parent and guide for SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. SOS kinderdorf started in Europe in 1945 due to the big amount of children left parentless after the Second World War and were needing attention and care to continue their lives without their parents. The first SOS Children’s Village was started in Imst, Austria in the year 1949. Nowadays, SOS-Kinderdorf International is the biggest and most important child welfare organization in the world and they have more than 73,400 children distributed around 550 SOS Villages. SOS Illinois started in 1993 with one foster home and they have kept record of all their children and their destinations and they have continued the legacy and guidance that SOS Kinderdorf International has given them in order to give children the support and the resources they need to become productive, social and happy adults in their communities.
Image courtesy of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at flickr.com
As for today, SOS Illinois runs 3 villages and a site that offers preventative and in-home family services. The SOS Children’s Villages are designed to help children see their real potential towards the community. The villages provide a group of homes that share recreational spaces with other homes that have foster children, which builds a true sense of community. The power of the program comes from the power that the Village has when it comes together to improve as a community and relies in the help of parents and staff that give children the tools to gain confidence, trust, and regain the sense of hope in their lives.
The first site they opened was opened in Lockport, Illinois in the year 1993 and it is located near Joliet, IL. This village consists of 18 family homes, a management building, community and learning center and a park
The second village was in opened in the year 2004 located in the Auburn Gresham/Englewood neighborhood of Chicago and it was the first urban Village in the United States. This village has 17 single-family homes. They also have the Lavezzorio Community Center that provides the community with on-site case management and medical services.
The third village is a village that has 14-homes and it was opened in the year 2014 in the Roosevelt Square Community of Chicago. The houses are big as they consist of 2300 square feet. Apart from all the facilities, they have areas that are used for vegetable gardens and for outdoor activities.
Be sure to also check this post on a charity that is providing technology education for everyone.