A group of IKEA co-workers from Sweden, US and UK are going to visit Save the Children projects in Lithuania, that have been funded by the Soft Toys for Education campaign. Read about the current situation for children placed in institutional care from Kristina Stepanova, Programme Manager Save the Children in Lithuania.
In the recent UNICEF report on children well-being, Lithuania was ranked 27th among 29 countries evaluated. Despite the fact that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by Lithuanian government in 1995, there still is a long way to go to ensure happy and safe childhood for all children in the country.
One of the main problems negatively impacting a large number of children in Lithuania is children left without parental care and placed in the residential care. In the European Union, Lithuania is one of the countries with the highest rate of children placed in institutions, including children under age 3. Despite the fact that institutional care violates child’s right to live in the family, it also has a negative impact on a child’s development. It has been a long-term practice to solve family’s social problems by limiting parental authority and placing children in care institution, rather than providing help for the child and family. The financial system of childcare institutions for a long time focused on the maintenance of the institutions themselves, rather than on the needs of the children. This has a long-term negative impact on a child, raising financial, medical, psychological and other problems in a child’s adult life. Not to mention losing a chance to have safe and cosy home and to have people who love you around you. Because children being sad, absent-minded, stressed and bad-tempered due to the loneliness and neglect feeling, will have difficult relationships with parents and peers, as well as trust issues.
With funding from the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children in Lithuania has created unique opportunities for facilitating the process of change and moving towards overcoming the legacy of institutional culture. The project gives a great opportunity to tackle the sorest problems for children and helps to develop effective preventive measures of children going into the institutional care. The project aims at strengthening families and local communities to empower them to raise problems in due time that will have a negative impact on children being able to stay in their families and to support the family in overcoming obstacles so they can keep their child. Also, IKEA Foundation support leads to help for children already placed in institutions by providing them with necessary education and preparation for independence in life and society, by educating social workers who will support these children into their adulthood.
IKEA Foundation support contributes to strengthening competences, knowledge and experience of Save the Children Lithuania staff too, and therefore strengthening the Non Governmental Organisations sector in Lithuania. This is a significant contribution for sustainable changes in Lithuanian society.
Furthermore, Save the Children Lithuania is thrilled by the opportunity to not only have financial support from the IKEA Foundation but also to see active involvement of IKEA staff members in the projects the Foundation is supporting. Waiting for the current visit of IKEA co-workers to Lithuania, Save the Children believes it is a great way to build responsible partnership between business and civil society sectors, together driving sustainable and significant change for children. Save the Children Lithuania believes that such partnership will help to ensure safe, healthy and suitable conditions for the growth and development of the child.