SOS Social Centres in Europe: Country List

In Eastern Europe the work of our SOS Social Centres is typically, but not always, linked to our Family Strengthening programs. Our projects in Eastern Europe are marked on this map. We currently have Social Centres in much of Eastern Europe.

After the collapse of communism in the 1990s, everyone hoped that institutional childcare would be reformed. Pictures of children in large orphanages pressurised governments and NGOs to adopt alternative forms of child care that were more family-centred. Sadly today there are over one million children living in institutions – government-run orphanages and boarding schools. It is past the point where we can sit by and watch children in these conditions: we have a responsibility to help them too!

Many of these countries are finding it very difficult to improve economically. Liberalisation has had a negative affect on families in the region – and increasing in family breakdown has resulted in more single-parent families, who are finding it more difficult to care for their own children. Some children are being placed in state orphanages because their parents cannot cope. Once children have been placed in such institutions, contact with their natural family is often gone.

SOS Children has been working in Eastern Europe since 1970 when the first Children’s Village opened in what was then Czechoslovakia. Even prior to the collapse of the communist system, SOS Children was already working in Hungary, Poland and the former Yugoslavia. Today we works in 20 countries and territories in the region, providing childcare based on a family, as an alternative to institutionalised child care. The focus is also on supporting families so that children are not separated from their natural families and thus removing the need for institutional children’s homes.

Examples of Work in SOS Social Centres in Eastern Europe (2009):

  1. At the SOS Social Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania, a 'Live Differently!' Campaign was initiated, aiming to integrate at risk individuals between the ages of 14 and 29 into the labour market.
  2. The SOS Playbus Project, Masina cu Jucarii, in Romania, reached 7,039 children and 2,695 adults
  3. In Murmansk, Russia, the SOS Social Centre incorporates a halfway home, where mothers with unsuitable accommodation can look after their children until suitable accommodation becomes available.

SOS Social Centres are loacted across Eastern Europe, from Russia to Macedonia.  They often operate via Family Strengthening Programmes.  Some countries run SOS Playbus Projects.  Click on a link to the right to read more about the individual SOS Social Centres that SOS Children run in Eastern Europe.

Map of SOS locations in eastern Europe

Albania  Belarus  Bulgaria  Bosnia & Herzegovina  Estonia  Latvia  Ukraine  Lithuania  Macedonia  Poland  Romania  Russia