The Estonian Society of the SOS Children's Village has five villages, two youth homes and the Family Strengthening Programme in seven local government areas. The SOS Children's Village operates in four areas: Viru County, Harju County, Southern Estonia and Rapla County.
In 2018, a total of 231 children were in family-based care. The village and youth home took in 19 new kids. During the year, 31 children and young people exited the service, 15 of whom started living independently; the others returned to their biological parents or went on to other (learning) institutions. At the end of 2018, the Harju County programme had 99 children and youngsters, the Viru County programme 55, the Southern Estonia programme 20 and the Rapla County programme 26.
The amount of state support per child living in a substitute home was 1200-1617 euros in 2018, depending on the child's age and health. The cost to the SOS Children's Village per child living in children's villages and youth homes was 1750 euros per month in 2018. In addition to local government revenue, the families at the SOS Children's Village are financed by both Estonian donators and SOS Children's Village International.
Children need family above all else, and our greatest challenge is finding substitute parents who are willing to work in a traditional children's village or to raise children as part of their own families. We are glad that in 2018 three parents joined the children's village and accepted children into their homes. As of the end of 2018, the SOS Children's Village had a total of five families raising children in their own homes.
Approximately 400 children end up in substitute homes or shelters in Estonia each year because their parents are unable to take sufficient care of them. Often these are families who have found themselves in difficulty for various reasons. These families are fighting poverty and living in need and their helplessness is worsening. In a crisis, parents are no longer able to properly assess the situation of their children and are unable to ensure safe and age-appropriate development for them. An estimated 7000 children are at risk of being separated from their families each year.
It is in the interests of children living in families at risk for intervention to take place as quickly as possible so as to ensure their safe development. Our experience shows that when families are supported and assisted, they can raise their children themselves and the kids do not have to be taken away from the family.
The SOS Family Strengthening Programmes supported 627 people in need (151 families) during the year. For the last few years the SOS Family Strengthening Programme has been operating in Narva, Sillamäe, Keila, Kohtla-Järve, Lääne-Harju municipality and Harku municipality. In 2018, we launched new programmes in Põltsamaa and Paldiski. On 13 May 2019 the programme was also launched in Viljandi municipality.
The SOS Children's Village has been helping families in difficulty for 10 years, with 1300 children and their family members and more than 550 families receiving help so far. Today, all of these families are able to raise their children on their own. We know we can provide these children and families with the support they need. Families rediscover the will to live and children remain with their parents. The need to contribute to prevention is great and the SOS Children's Village can do this by relying on Estonia's kind donators and in places where there is good cooperation with the local government.
As of 2018, 138 people form part of our extended family, with different workloads and contracts. 112 of them work directly with the children, whether as parents, family assistants, social workers or support people from the SOS Family Strengthening Programme families.
A total of 26 people work in support positions so that our organisation, which for 25 years has been contributing to a better future for Estonian children, can carry on this work as passionately and caringly tomorrow as it does today. They include programme managers, fund-raisers, accountants, drivers (who help transport the disabled children in Narva-Jõesuu and the children who go to the special school in Keila), a personnel manager and more.
In 2018, the income of the Estonian Society of the SOS Children's Village was 5,312,549 euros, of which 2,798,504 euros was received from local governments (53%). Donations from individuals amounted to 1,274,514 euros (24%), donations from enterprises accounted for 322,262 euros (6%) and donations from abroad and other sources made up 917,259 euros (17%).
In 2018, the total running costs of the Estonian Society of the SOS Children's Village was 4,862,008 euros. Personnel costs are our greatest item of expenditure, because the constant care, love and attention of adults is what raises our children. Personnel costs in 2018 amounted to 2,901,814 euros (60%), including wages, salaries and training costs, special bonuses and 3rd pension pillar contributions for the parents from the SOS Children's Village. Utility costs amounted to 738,233 euros (15%), including the cost of maintaining and repairing houses and spending on IT (since the SOS Children's Village has a large number of sensitive personal data and we consider it very important that they are stored securely). The family budget spent a total of 774,232 euros (16%), with the main costs being the daily expenses of families (including spending on children's activities and medicines). Other costs amounted to 447,729 euros (9%), including transportation i.e. the expense of moving over 200 children and 138 employees around. In addition, this included costs incurred for the running of the organisation, i.e. fundraising, and other general costs.
The net surplus for the financial year was 449,518 euros. This amount includes financial support received from SOS Kinderdorf International in Denmark of 335,769 euros. The intended purpose of this support is to reorganise the Keila Children's Village in 2019.
In 2018, the Estonian Society of the SOS Children's Village paid national taxes in the amount of 977,600 euros.
In accordance with the rules pertaining to international organisations, the SOS Children's Village has a minimum reserve requirement of three months. We have raised this amount over the years with the help of international support. Reserves are needed to ensure a loving home for children living under the care of the SOS Children's Village, even if something catastrophic happens – economic conditions deteriorate sharply so that it is no longer possible to raise sufficient donations, the local government is unable to meet their obligations, or it is necessary to make an emergency investment. The funds collected in the reserves may be used with the approval of the society's supervisory board for the reorganisation of activities and/or commencement of services, but thereafter a three-month reserve must be restored in the following years. Over time, the SOS Children's Village has accumulated a reserve fund of 1,267,000 euros.
Through SOS Kinderdorf International, support for the reorganisation of the SOS Children's Village in Keila was received from Denmark in the amount of 335,769 euros. The intended purpose of this support is to reorganise the Keila Children's Village in 2019. The aim of the reorganisation is to offer even better, more homely and flexible ways of caring for our children. This means that the oldest and largest children's village will no longer continue in its current form. From 2019-2023 all of the families living at the Keila Children's Village will receive a private residence in Keila or Harju County. For this purpose, suitable homes are currently being sought to which families can move. They will receive wide-ranging help to adapt to their new situation.
Completed in 1994, Keila SOS Children's Village was planned to be a residence for a total of 96 children, or 12 families of eight members. Today, 25 years later, a lot has changed. Firstly, there has been a change in the way we live in society. While community life was valued 25 years ago, privacy and independence are valued today. Secondly, it has become clear that the location of the village is not the most appropriate, which makes reorganising the existing village impractical. Thirdly, it is becoming harder and harder to find suitable parents for the community, since the right people prefer more privacy and would rather have things arranged more like in foster families.
Thus, the main reasons for families to raise children in their own homes are the well-being of the kids and parents, the possibility to adapt this approach quickly and conveniently according to the wishes of the children and the local government, the ability to work together to design a diverse family parent working model that suits different people and the fact that parents can work under one family parent contract.
The SOS Children's Village is using all of its available resources to reorganise things so that our children living in families in Keila can transfer smoothly to their new homes in Harju County.
The biggest challenges in 2019 are finding family parents who would like to take care of children without parental care, be it in their own homes or in residential space rented by the SOS Children's Village, and the reorganization of Keila SOS Children's Village.