Family Strengthening in Armenia
Armenia marked another year of socio-economic development and there is much to do in the social field. Unfortunately here must be mentioned that the number of socially unprotected, abandoned or children at social risk isn’t still decreasing. But it is very gratifying and prideful that our organization is constantly doing new steps for involving and helping more and more children in the scope of various new projects and programmes. Family Strengthening and Prevention of Child Abandonment programme as a vivid example, is spreading its firm branches and demonstrating its effective and fruitful continuation in more districts of Yerevan and in more parts of Armenia. We help the children in need stay in their biological family focusing our work on strengthening the families. The programme brings into life its aims and goals in different fields-both financially and psychologically, they work both with children and their parents and in the result there are a lot of families, who have reorganized, have started consider how to struggle for having full and normal family. The FS projects, as one of the important directions of SOS work in general, is already widening its branches already in Idjevan, where the programme started to be implemented since April 2008. Families in need get both psychological and materials assistance, children systematically attend hobby groups, parents participate in various trainings, active psychological work is done both with children and parents. By the end of this reporting period in Yerevan, Gyumry and Idjevan the number of children has increased, thus reaching 245 children from 117 families in Yerevan, and 278 children - in Gyumry and another 100 children from 75 families in Idjevan.
As general information, the FS projects have been implementing since 2006. The project was first implemented in Gyumri as a town considerably damaged by the earthquake and suffered from psychological and social-economic upheavals, and in cooperation with two local NGOs, the project has shown up new success stories. At the beginning of 2007 the FS project began in Kanaker-Zeytun (district of Yerevan), and in Idjevan the project implementation has been in process since April, 2008. On the primary cycle of the implementation of all the three projects there was some mistrust from the part of local authorities and other local structures, as well as the community members in general. But this year proved to be of high significance for the FS programmes inYerevan, as the Municipality's response to our activity was tremendous-they granted us with a place in the Municipality house, which is in the district where the programme is carried out. It is very favourable for us because it significantly makes easy the work of staff, as they are now much closer with the beneficiaries and their houses. However, after a while, thanks to the active actions of the project staff, organization of meetings, participation in the Child’s Rights Protection Network reached the advanced level of partnership with the local governmental and non-governmental structures. Presently, the participation of the partners in the realization of the FS projects is multi-functional/multi-level (assistance in the process of beneficiaries’ identification, providing of premises, assistance in providing of various project services).
In April FS team of Yerevan was assigned an important task to facilitate the process of National Child Rights Situation Analysis. It was smoothly carried out and the staff returned to his routine works. Based on the objectives set up during the Family development plans, SOS has signed agreements with the families and provided multi-professional assistance, be it related to social, psychological, legal, health or education issues. Many interesting, useful and educational excursions have been carried out for the children, and in general much is done for the families in need to make them feel safe and unified. The food package provision has become an important tool towards the development of the targeted families. Psychological assessment and rehabilitation of the children, organization of clubs, after- school activities and excursions, providing of he textbooks and stationary, providing of he textbooks and stationary, sending children to the medical centers for health check-ups and providing of drugs, improvement of living conditions, provision of food, hygienic packages and clothes-is the practical part of the activities carried out for children beneficiaries. Followed are the assistance to adult beneficiaries and parents of the target families- Social-legal consultation, organization of parental skills trainings, organization of job trainings and sending to the job centers, psychological assessment and rehabilitation, sending to the medical examination and provision of drugs. Numerous beneficiary parents have been included in the courses of English, computer and culinary. And thanks to our assistance, since January, two of them have luckily managed to find jobs. Many juridical consultations have been provided to the families in need. In 2009 the realization of all the three projects will continue.
The beneficiary’s identification process is planned and the general number of the children is planned to reach 800, the adult caregivers is to reach 250. In 2009 the geography of the project in Idjevan will be enlarged, all o f the Tavush region will be involved in the project, the administrative centre of which is town of Idjevan. As a new component of the projects ‘Confidence in Future’ three–year program will be realized in partnership with the HSBC. Within the framework of the projects, during three years, some 232 project beneficiaries will receive specialized education, receiving an opportunity to find employment in the corresponding profession in the future, which will provide with the permanent family income. The importance of the implementation of the projects was seen when evaluating the impact of it on beneficiaries, according to which it is worth stating that a number of families supported by the projects had managed to become self-reliant, particularly with the solution of employment and provision of state pensions and benefits. Numerous were the cases of improved intra-familial relations and reduction of psychological problems. Needless to speak about the effectiveness of the project in improving the educational issues of those children, thus creating favorable conditions for their studies at schools.
Suzanna Badeyan, - National Family Strengthening Programme manager