Partnership with the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece

The organization, support and operation of the “SOS ELIZA Home for the Therapy and Rehabilitation of Abused and Neglected Children”, are in partnership with the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece.

Considering the long experience and expertise of the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece in the field of child protection, it was commonly decided that the scientific responsibility for the SOS ELIZA Home will be undertaken by the SOS Children’s Villages.

Staffing of SOS ELIZA Home

Considering the psychological and emotional needs of children of preschool age combined with the particularly negative impact of multiple “trauma” during this period, it was decided that the SOS ELIZA Home would follow the model of the SOS Children’s Villages. The role of the replacement-mother is taken by three in-house “aunties”, supported by a team of specialists, comprising the psychologist responsible for the operation of the Home, the social worker, the kindergarten teacher, the early-years support worker, the health visitor and the developmental psychologist.

Part-time staff include a clinical psychologist and a child psychiatrist, while clinical paediatric support is offered by a volunteer paediatrician. The children’s hospitalization, when needed, is provided by a State Children’s Hospital and by a private paediatric clinic that offers us its services.

For the resolving of the children’s as well as their families’ complicated legal affairs, a specialised lawyer in child protection issues, offers valuable advice and legal assistance.

The scientific team, with members from both institutions, the Councillor’s Committee, the Referral Committee and external supervision from an experienced child psychiatrist are the safety valves for an essentially therapeutic model of child protection and rehabilitation for abused children of preschool age.

Reasons for admission into the Home

The reasons for admission to the Home are physical or mental abuse, sexual violation, abandonment, maternal insufficiency or serious neglect. Every admission is followed by a complete diagnostic evaluation of the child and the family by the scientific team and the drafting of an individual action plan according to the needs of each child.

What does the Home provide?

The SOS ELIZA Home supports infants and children up to the age of 5 and serves the children in many ways: immediate protection from further abuse or neglect, thorough evaluation of the family situation in view of the possibility of better home care for the child, legal coverage in the child’s interest, therapeutic intervention and an individual program of rehabilitation.

This many-faceted intervention, unique in Greece and rare in Europe, has an added value: the avoidance of the children being placed in institutions of child care, often until they reach adulthood, with what that entails for the rest of their lives.

According to scientific data, the best indicator of success of such a program is the children’s development: weight increase for the infants, development of speech, psycho-emotional development, socialization. The experience obtained after 4 years of operation shows us that the therapeutic intervention provided has proved particularly beneficial for all the children in our care.

The Home can care for 8 children at any one time, while there is space for two more children in an emergency.

The duration of each child’s stay in the Home is 18 months, a sufficient period of time for a complete diagnostic and therapeutic program to be implemented for preschool children. Additionally, it has been scientifically proven that at this age, a stay beyond 18 months increases the possibility of long term confinement in an institution.

Since the opening of the SOS ELIZA Home, in January 2009, we have supported 26 children (from 3 months to 7 years old).Fourteen (14) have already been placed in a permanent family environment through adoption, long term fostering, placement in the Children’s SOS villages, etc. No child’s stay in the Home has exceeded the set 18 months.

However after their rehabilitation and departure from the Home, the children are regularly monitored by the scientific team.

Help for the Parents

During the first years of life, family life offers the necessary conditions for a child’s normal physical and psycho-emotional development. When this period becomes privative or traumatic for the child, a thorough evaluation of the causes of the parents’ and/or the whole family’s difficulties is necessary, in order to assess the risk of further abuse and neglect, but also of the family’s strengths that could be used with the appropriate support.

For parents and family members, a systematic follow up is offered by the scientific team.

The premises

The building which houses the SOS ELIZA Home was donated for this purpose to the SOS Children Villages of Greece by Mrs Eleni Papaconstantinou. It was refurbished through the contribution of Aegean Airlines towards the SOS Children’s Villages. The garden and grounds were designed and developed with the help of donors.

Source of referrals

The main sources of referrals to the SOS ELIZA Home are the two Children’s Hospitals, the Alexandra Maternity Hospital, the Public Prosecutors for Minors and the Ministry of Welfare. Even though the most serious difficulty we face is rehabilitation, in other words the wider system of services, we continue to believe in the rights of each child to enjoy life in a family environment.

Inauguration of SOS ELIZA Home

On the 18th of May 2009, a happy day for all, the SOS ELIZA Home celebrated its inauguration in the presence of numerous guests. The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, His Beatitude Hieronymos II, blessed the ceremony.

The Mayor of Marousi, the President of ELIZA, Marina Karella, The Archbishop of Greece, Mrs Eleni Papaconstantinou and the late President of the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece, Professor Constantinos Sekeris

Michael Goulandris, Elli Stai, Marina Karella, Prince Michel