The services offered within the “ALMA” Counseling and Support Center for Parents and Children aim to improve living conditions and social and school integration of children and families in the Pata Rât community – landfill area, using targeted interventions on five dimensions: health and hygiene; adequate nutrition; responsible growth and care; security and safety; early education opportunities.
The approach focuses on the family – starting from pregnancy, support for mothers and babies, children between 2-3 years old and 3-6 years old and it includes integrated social, educational, medical activities.
In order to facilitate the access of all the families in the area to the services of the center, the activities of the center are carried out in the Mobile Unit, composed of modular containers located in the Pata-Rât community. Once its services and benefits have been acknowledged, residents in the landfill area request them as needed.
Within the center, children benefit from socio-educational activities, but also from non-formal ones (manual, creative, STEM type workshops, etc.). For children, there are: sanitation activities, socio-educational, playful and socializing activities. If necessary, access to medical treatments is ensured and clothing and footwear or hygiene products necessary for the child's growth and development are provided. The activities dedicated to children aged 2-3 years old replace the need to send children to the nursery, because in the Mobile Unit, located in the community, there are professionals who take care of children, laying the foundations for early education. The inclusion of children in social service activities from an early age will increase their chances of having a regular educational path in the sense that, being involved in educational activities, they will be accustomed and prepared for the moment they arrive at school. These activities also help mothers, providing support in caring for, raising and educating their children.
Parents receive individual and group counseling. The purpose of the meetings is to inform, educate, raise awareness, take responsibility for the needs of children, enhance education and overcome difficult situations that affect family relationships. An important component is the continuous development of parenting skills through workshops for babies and mothers. Families are monitored and evaluated during weekly visits.
In parallel, community activities are carried out to inform, raise awareness and sensitize on the issues of the child and the family, health issues, to promote the services provided and to establish collaborative relationships with community reference persons, institutions and other social actors.
The pandemic has drastically changed the lives of families in Pata-Rât, widely threatening the most vulnerable families. As schools, kindergartens and nurseries have closed, the need to participate in educational activities was felt in the community, but the need for food also increased considerably, as children were provided with at least one meal a day, as well as snacks in the activities in which they were constantly participating in. In addition to the cessation of educational activities, many members of the community were left with no chance of earning any income.
Between March and June 2020, the activity of the FDP Cluj team in the Mobile Unit and the field work was considerably restricted. During this period, one of the main activities were: monitoring the health, especially of babies and children; the provision of disposable diapers, milk powder; medical support; food packages and hygiene/sanitary products. Punctual information and discussions were also held in order to maintain communication with families.
− 40 children, aged between 2 and 6 years old, participate in age-specific educational programs;
− Every week, at least 15 mothers received support, psychological counseling and baby products (diapers, clothes, strollers, etc.);
− Seven children were included in the education system, in grade zero;
− 10 children were registered with the family doctor;
− Five mothers were monitored during pregnancy;
− Monthly information activities were carried out in the community, on topics of interest for beneficiaries;
− Daily visits were paid by the team of specialists to the beneficiaries' homes;
− Every month, about 80 beneficiaries participated in the activities carried out within the center.
The child is an agent of change in the family, and intervention on him/her is essential.
For a successful intervention:
− The active involvement of the beneficiaries in the assistance process is necessary.
− Their motivation for change must be maintained.
− Relationships with beneficiaries need to be developed and strengthened.
“The main lesson is that we do this together. So we don't do it for them and they don't do it for us; integrated services are needed as well as the need to develop a relationship. When the mother comes to us with the child...it becomes easier to include him/her in other programs because they already know, they know us, a relationship of trust has already been built and it is easier for them to move from one stage to another.” (Representative of the “ALMA” Counseling and Support Center for Parents and Children)
Community Support Foundation
Star of Hope Romania Foundation