In partnership with the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece
The SOS-ELIZA Home for the Therapy and Rehabilitation of Abused and Neglected Children is organized, supported and operated in partnership with the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece.
Taking into consideration the long experience and expertise of the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece in the field of child protection, it was jointly decided that the operationof the SOS-ELIZA Home would be entrusted to the SOS Children’s Villages. A five-member Councillors’ Committee, representing both partner organizations, monitors the program, evaluates the services offered and proposes new actions always in the best interest of the children in care.
Staffing of SOS-ELIZA Home
Taking into account the psychological and emotional needs of children of pre-school 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 undertaken by in-house “aunties” supported by a team of specialists comprising the psychologist responsible for the operation of the Home, two social workers, a kindergarten teacher, preschool aids, a health visitor and a developmental psychologist. Part-time staff includes 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 the public Children’s Hospital and by a private paediatric clinic offering its services free of charge. Finally, a lawyer specializing in child protection issues offers her valuable advice and legal assistance for the resolution of the complicated legal affairs that children and their families might be faced with.
The joint Scientific Team with members from both institutions, the Councillor’s Committee, the Referral Committee, as well as the external supervision from an experienced child psychiatrist constitute the safety net for an essentially therapeutic framework of child protection and rehabilitation for abused children of pre-school age – a model that is unique for Greece and rare in other European countries.
Reasons for admission to the Home
Admission to the Home depends on one or all of the following factors: physical, mental or sexual abuse, abandonment, maternal insufficiency, serious neglect. For every admission, the scientific team effects a complete diagnostic evaluation of the child and the family, followed by an individual action plan according to the needs of each child.
What does the Home provide?
The SOS-ELIZA Home welcomes infants and children up to the age of 5, supporting them in many different ways: immediate protection from further abuse or/and neglect, thorough diagnostic evaluation of the family situation in view of the possibility of danger-free home-care for the child, multiple and customized therapeutic intervention, legal coverage in the child’s interest and an individual program of rehabilitation for the child’s future in a secure family-like environment.
This many-faceted intervention, unique in Greece, provides the added value of preventing children from being placed in long-term child-care institutions – a situation that entails several complications for the rest of their lives.
According to scientific data, the best indicator of success of an intervention program for infants and toddlers is child development in terms of weight and height, while for children of pre-school age this is measured in terms of speech development, psycho-emotional development and socialization. The experience obtained after six years of operation demonstrates that the therapeutic intervention provided has proved to be particularly beneficial for all the children hosted in the Home.
Apart from exceptional cases, the duration of each child’s stay in the Home is up to 18 months, a time-span considered sufficient for the implementation of a complete diagnostic and therapeutic program for children of pre-school age. Additionally, it has been scientifically proven that at this age, a stay beyond 18 months without the presence of a mother or a dedicated carer, increases the possibility of long term confinement in an institution.
Help to Parents
During the early years of a child’s life, family life offers the ideal conditions for a normal physical and psycho-emotional development. When this period becomes 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. However, the family’s strong points are also assessed as these could be of great value, in the event that with the appropriate support, the child could return to its family, without the risk of further abuse.
A systematic follow up is offered to parents and the rest of the family by the scientific team, while, after their departure from the Home and their rehabilitation, all children, regardless of the framework in which they are placed, are looked after systematically by a specialized social worker until they reach their adulthood.
The premises of SOS-ELIZA Home
The first building which houses the SOS-ELIZA Home was donated for this purpose to the SOS Children’s Villages of Greece by Mrs. Eleni Papakonstantinou and was refurbished thanks to the the contribution of Aegean Airlines. The spacious outdoor area of the Home was designed and developed with the help of donors.
Thanks to the construction of a second building on the same grounds, inaugurated by the wife of the President of The Hellenic Republic, Mrs. May Papoulia on March 12th 2014, the SOS-ELIZA Home is now in a position to care for 18 infants, toddlers and young children at any given time, while two places are always kept free for emergency cases. The two buildings constitute a single entity, with part-time care personnel added to the staff team. The outdoor area was redesigned to accommodate a new playground, flower beds, safety railings, lawns and storage space.
Source of referrals
The main sources of referrals for the SOS-ELIZA Home are the two Children’s Hospitals, the ALEXANDRA Maternity Hospital, the MITERA Infant Center, public prosecutors for minors and the Ministry of Welfare. Owing to weaknesses in the wider scheme of public services, the most serious difficulty we face is in the field of adoption and fostering, but we continue to believe in the right of every child to enjoy life within a family environment.
After six years of operation, the SOS-ELIZA Home has cared for 35 infants and young children, of which 22 have now found a home in a permanent family environment: natural family, extended family fostering, non-paid fostering with possible adoption outcome, adoption, SOS Villages’ families.