Goals of  “Center Star”





According to the report of the centers for social work, in Serbia there are over 6,000 children without parental care. Of these, about 5000 children are placed in foster care, and about 1000 of them are placed in one of the orphanages in our country. According to the data used in the report of the Institute for Social Protection, the age group totals are: 15% of the children are under the age of 5; 32% of the children are aged 8 to 14, and about 50% of the children are adolescents or older (26% are 15-17 years old, 27% are over 18 years old).

Due to the cumbersome and often ineffective social protection system and the evident need for concrete action, we believe that it would be appropriate to establish and action an association of citizens - Center Star who desire to promote: 

  1. foster care, 
  2. care of orphans who are preparing for independent living after leaving the social system, 
  3. as well as care for older children who have grown up in the orphanage and have aged out.


Promoting foster care


Promoting foster care as one of the goals of the association is formed on the basis of available data and information from the field. Namely, foster care provides care, protection, and conditions for optimal development of children in a family environment. Children living in orphanage institutions are very aware and are sensitive to the fact they are without family. This is manifested through various challenging behaviors and irresponsibility to others and to themselves.

Although a large number of potential foster families completed training, the need for foster parents is still there (especially in Belgrade), in part because foster parents do not accept older aged children, who make up half the population of dorm children, or children with special needs, who are 43 % of the population of children in the homes. (Of this, 83% of the children are mildly mentally retarded. There are children with visual or hearing impairments, children with chronic illness, and only 5% of children have multiple disabilities). Thus, the promotion of foster care would be realized through:

  • Promoting foster care based, primarily, on ethical principles, as many potential foster parents. 
  • Printing materials to promote foster care (with explanations of legal, psychological, social and other aspects relevant to the future potential foster parents).
  • Translating foreign published literature with special emphasis on the training of children in foster care.
  • Providing advice and support to foster parents and children who are in foster care about their rights and obligations, which are often vague and unfulfilled due to administrative, legal and other reasons.
  • Organizing camps for children in foster placement in collaboration with other organizations dealing with young people at home and abroad.
  • Providing financial assistance to foster parents who accept foster babies, children with special needs or older children. (ie: providing cribs, diapers, baby milk, various hearing aids, eyeglasses, and an additional allowance for older children, etc.).
  • Organizing periodic meetings of foster parents and foster children in the form of clubs and workshops in order to share expert advice, experiences, socialize, etc
  • Providing ongoing support to all foster families and to the children who are placed with them through the possibility of daily telephone and internet communication.
  • Collaborating with other organizations and foster clubs at home and abroad.


Help for older orphans (teens and older)


Help for older orphans (teens and older) is one of the goals of the association. In fact, as we have already noted, about half of all children in the orphanages are children older than 14 years. They are difficult to place with a family because of insufficient interest from the foster parents, or personal disinterest. Children of this age have noticeable and significant developmental problems: various disorders, lack of interest and failure in school, aggression towards other children, disrespect for following the rules of behavior and house rules, lack of social skills, and depression. The problems are often manifested by aggressiveness, inclination towards theft, difficulties in communication, loneliness, and psychosomatic disorders. (Research by Vojin Vidanović - Marginalization and Social Exclusion of Children Without Parental Care).

Educational statistics indicate that only 36% of the children from the orphanage attend regular primary and secondary schools, 22% of the children attend special needs primary and secondary schools, and only 3% of the children continued to a university education. The fact is that only 18% of children are enrolled in a regular high school, less than 3% attend a course of vocational training, and less than 5% of those who completed their education are successful in finding a job, according to the Report of the Republic Institute for Social Protection. Because of overburdened social workers, the education of children who are in orphanages is usually left up to the individual child. Considering the previously mentioned problems in behavior and the age of the children, one cannot expect their success in education, without encouragement and help of adults. On the other hand, education is the most significant opportunity for progress and independence of children without parental care. At the same time, to promote foster care as a better form of care for children in this age group, it is necessary to take some measures in order to assist them while they are still in the orphanage before they age out of the system.

The goal of the association would be accomplished through the following tasks:

  • Establishing and maintaining communication with the older children in the homes
  • Teaching cognitive and social skills (effective strategies to solve problems, non-aggressive responses to provocation) 
  • Teaching skills to deal with stress
  • Educational tutoring, preparing for tests, class and entrance exams
  • Motivating the children to explore and find their own potential and talents
  • Encouraging further education 
  • Vocational guidance counseling
  • Improving personal potential and empowerment
  • Training and developing social skills
  • Providing financial assistance for the purchase of certain personal needs - underwear, [br]socks, towels (given that their current monthly allowance is insufficient, about 20 Euro)
  • Educating on substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, abortion, etc.


Social assisting young people who need help to get off of the welfare system


Finally, social assisting young people who need help to get off of the welfare system is one of the principal aims of the association. Successful social integration of children without parental care requires learning life skills. Life skills related to perception, interpretation, and response to all aspects of everyday life. Through educational workshops, personal contact, and sharing experiences with a coach (mentor), youth without parental care would be gradually assimilated into community life. Although there are projects with similar goals and are supported by the welfare system, because of the size and lack of organization of the system optimal results are minimal.

Specifically, for children over 14 years it is necessary to make an appropriate discharge plan and prepare them for the start of independent living. According to the survey, 72 % of the children in the orphanage said they fear the future and social environment (V. Vidanović: Marginalization and Social Exclusion of Children Without Parental Care) Because of “orphanage syndrome,” children show fear of life outside institutions because they have been isolated most of their life. The children are also impacted by the prejudices of those with whom they come into contact, usually peers, and the stigmatization from the society in which they encounter. Also, children and young people who need to get off of the social welfare system show a lack of confidence, and there is inadequate contact with the centers for social work, mainly because of over burdened centers and social workers. It\'s a big problem because the social workers are the employees of these major centers and they are often the only link between the youth and the society they need to be integrated into (most of them have very rare if any contact with family and relatives). 
Therefore, the association would accomplish this goal through the following tasks:

  • Establish and maintain communication with young people in homes and alternative residential units
  • Host educational workshops in order to reduce tensions and alienation, improve socialization, empathy, non-violent communication
  • Host hands on workshops in order to teach basic life skills to help deal with the challenges of independent living
  • Arrange mentor relationships to learn basic life and social skills (CV writing, job search, etc.)
  • Sponsor creative workshops to improve self-confidence, to help discover and realize their own potential, provide motivation and support
  • Provide material assistance in order to further professionally train the youth from the orphanage (training for computer skills, foreign language courses, drivers license, etc.)
  • Form clubs of youth that have successfully come off the welfare system and have fully integrated into the local community
  • Provide support and counseling for the children in the field of health education, administrative and legal rights, civil rights and obligations


The importance of the realization of all this goes without saying. However, to illustrate the need for better and more comprehensive action in dealing with children without parental care, here are research details carried out in Russia and published: https://www.mnnonline.org/article/18157.
“Of 15,000 children without parental care, each year upon leaving the social welfare system at age 16: 33% are unemployed, 20% are homeless, 40% are straight from homes into the world of crime, and 10% of them commit suicide.”

We believe that these percentages are applied to the same population of young people in Serbia. Therefore, it is very important to practically respond to this demographic of youth, in order to prevent these devastating consequences, not only for children and youth without parental care, but also for society as a whole.

In order to find a practical solution for some of these problems, the association has three major goals to set forth:

  • promoting foster care
  • helping orphans while they are staying in the orphanage without parental care
  • supporting young people who are preparing for independent living after leaving the social welfare system.

The greatest sage Solomon said, “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. (Proverbs 21:13 English Standard Version)
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Stars

Divna


Divna is a young woman who was in the social care system during her high school years.

Aleksandar


Alexander is a young man who spent most of his life in the orphanage in Belgrade.


Goran


Goran is a young man lacking proper parental care. We have known him ever since he was a boy.


Igor


We met Igor when he was a little boy, in the first grade of elementary school.


Stefan


Stefan’s life story is dramatic, much like most of the young people with whom we come into contact.


Activities

Event organized by Food Bank and Carnex Company

5. December 2017.

Together with 3 more societies, we participated in the event organized by Food Bank and Carnex Company.

Multikongres Serbian Visions

30. November 2017.

We participated at this years Multikongres Serbian Visions, organized in Belgrade.

We attended Hand Made festival

28. November 2017.

We attended „Hand Made festival Vol.8 and Vol. 9“ organized on Dorcol Platz.