First therapy home for violent children without parental care opens

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Building the therapy home.
Building the therapy home.

There is a big need in Estonia for homes where young people without parental care and violent behavior can live. SOS Children's Village will soon open its first so-called therapy home for children, but the six places on offer will not solve the whole problem.

ETV's weekly current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nadal" (AK) went to look around the new home and speak to the managers to see what they will offer children who stay there.

The picture of a fox asleep on a tree branch, a painting halfway up the staircase, is exactly the kind of peaceful scene the employees of the SOS Children's Village want to inspire the first six teenagers who will move in next week.

SOS Children's Village Family Care Adviser Pille Teder told AK the center will care for children who have been separated from their biological family or been neglected by their family.

Due to their traumatic childhoods, these young people - aged between 14 and 18 - all have behavioral difficulties. Some of them have been appointed to closed care facilities by the courts in the past while the behavior of others suggests this is where they are likely to end up.

The therapy home will try to make sure this does not happen.

"There is a need for a place where they are treated on the basis of trauma pedagogy so they recognize that their behavioral patterns can change at some point and they will be able to move on to a completely normal environment," CEO of SOS Children's Village Margus Oro said.

At the home, the young people will live a normal, typical life: they will go to school and do their daily chores. This is not a closed institution that stops them from leaving.

But there is one big difference to a normal family home - employees outnumber children and will be there around the clock. This is in order to ensure that each young person is given the amount of attention they need.

"In this house, every child has their own room and a pretty big room, and there is also a room for the staff," Oro said.

All doors have sensors, so when the doors open, the social educator knows where the movement is.

"We have an agenda that we stick to very well and that is our rhythm, and through that rhythm and the agenda and the rules, we try to guide them so that they can do it again in life," Teder said.

There has been a lot of interest in the home from across the country, but there will not be space for all the children who could benefit from such a home.

"Local governments are turning to us. They are coming from Harju County, Tallinn, Tartu County, Jõgeva County and there are many, many, many appeals made to us. Our decision is that they [the residents] must be young people in foster care or aftercare without biological parents," Oro said. "It's like building a bridge between a regular family home and a substitute home and a closed childcare service."

The SOS Children's Village therapy home service costs €4,000 per month. "It's a very large amount," Oro said. "But what is the price of a young person?"


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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