Annual Report



children and young people
in SOS families and youth programmes
children and young people
in foster families and transit homes
children, young people and adults in SOS family strengthening programmes
children, young people and adults in SOS education programmes
single health services delivered through SOS medical centres
single emergency services delivered in areas affected by humanitarian crises

Why we are committed to care

Creating the Care Effect

Without a caring and protective parent, a child is more vulnerable to abuse, discrimination, exploitation and poverty. Research has even demonstrated that the lack of love, care and support of a caregiver also impairs the development of a child’s brain.

An essential part of preventing these damaging impacts has to be ensuring that children in vulnerable situations receive good quality parental care. 

An investment in care for children at risk of growing up alone makes the world a better place – for them, for society and for the generations to come. 

More about the Care Effect


On Universal Children's Day, 20 November 2017, we launched the No Child Alone campaign to draw attention to research showing that one in ten children worldwide is essentially growing up alone. Many supporters, including SOS Children's Villages International Ambassador Vincent Kompany, joined us in spreading our message. Together we reached millions of people in over 75 countries around the world.

Quality – at the heart of our care

We are driven by our mission – to build families for children in need, to help them shape their own futures and to share in the development of their communities.

Our commitment to individualised care is an active promise which we live out daily, as the drive towards quality is never over. We seek continuous improvement and learning from our experience, our partners and the children themselves.

Our child-centred approach, grounded in international standards, means our support is tailored to the unique needs of each child, family and community in which we work.

Explore what we do

Child safeguarding

We are committed to creating a safe environment for children in all of our programmes. This includes providing a safe haven for children in SOS families and being a force to promote child safeguarding in communities. 

We have zero tolerance for any abusive behaviour to children, whether intentional or inadvertent, anywhere in our sphere of influence. The foundation of our approach to child safeguarding is our Child Protection Policy – Child Safety is Everyone's Business which focuses on four key action areas: awareness, prevention, reporting, and responding. 

Keeping Children Safe certification

We have been awarded Level 1 Certification by Keeping Children Safe.

Whistleblowing channel goes live

New online whistleblowing channel for reporting child safety concerns.

Ending violence against children

We advocate for measures to keep children from harm.

Providing quality alternative care

All too often, children lose the care of their parents (or other adult caregivers) and require alternative care. We work with the responsible authorities and partners to ensure that children have suitable care options, based on the best interests of each child.

We do this through offering SOS family care, suitable for children who are likely to need longer-term care in a family-like environment. We also provide other alternative care options such as foster care, youth programmes and small group homes.

In every care option, our aim is that children grow up in a loving and nurturing environment until they are mature enough to lead independent lives or until they can be reunified with their biological families.

Our reach



children and young people


SOS Children's Villages


SOS youth programmes


SOS families

Impact Insights

Our social impact assessments from seven programme locations measured the long-term impact of our work on the well-being of children.

New SOS programme in Syria

In 2017, SOS Children's Villages Syria opened a new programme in Damascus to respond to the need for alternative care for children.

Strengthening care in children's own families

Every child has a right to the care of a family. Ideally, children grow up in the family into which they are born. However, when families are unable to provide a stable and safe home for their children, they run the risk of breaking down.

This is why our family strengthening programmes are tailored to the local context and provide individual support to at-risk families.

Activities include parenting skills trainings, family counselling, training parents so they can earn an income as well as assisting families to access basic services in education, health, housing, etc. Together with states, communities and other stakeholders we work to build and strengthen social networks and support systems for families. 

Our reach



children, young people and adults




SOS family strengthening programmes

“For the first time in my life, I felt someone really cares about us.” - Inna, Ukraine

“I am proud of our house, proud of my restaurant and proud of the kids' efforts in school.” - Mary, Zambia

Emergency response

In our emergency response programmes, we specialise in the care and protection of children before, during and after natural disasters or in other times of urgent need.

We do this in a number of ways: through interim care centres for unaccompanied and separated children, child-friendly spaces, access to technology hubs, psychological and social support to help children and their parents heal from trauma as well as support for families to help them get back on their feet. 

In 2017, our emergency relief work included responses to drought in Ethiopia and Somaliland; to other natural catastrophes in Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Mozambique and Peru; and programmes for the refugee and mass displacement crises stemming from conflicts in Syria, West Africa’s Lake Chad region and Ukraine.

Our reach



emergency services


emergency programmes in


countries and territories

Our responses in 2017

Our emergency relief work responses in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, Syria, Ukraine and many more.

Preparing for tomorrow's disasters

Our E-Prep programme helps us minimise the impact of natural and human-caused disasters on the children in our care.

Empowerin­g children and young people

Children and young people have the right to be listened to in all matters affecting them so they can actively contribute to shaping their own lives and the development of their communities.

We listen to young people and work to give them opportunities to express their opinions directly to actors and decision makers in different sectors.

Finding decent work is particularly daunting for young people who have left alternative care, who often cannot count on the networks, resources and guidance of their families. This is why it is important to offer support systems, positive role models, skills training and work experience so that these young people can kick-start their careers and independent lives. 

Increasing young people's employability skills also means giving them access to technologies and leveraging digital tools to connect and train them through our ICT4D projects. 

Our reach



young people in


youth programmes


young people and adults in


vocational training centres

Pan-African Youth Empowerment Conference

150 young people came together with representatives from different institutions, corporations and academia.


Our new global initiative aims to empower young people and help them successfully manage the transition to the job market and independence.

Amplifying the voice of children

We are committed to ensuring the rights of all children, especially of those who are often forgotten: children without parental care.

Children and young people in alternative care should be supported to speak up about their experiences, their needs and their ideas. That is why we empower them in order to boost youth participation in national and international advocacy events and to ensure that their voices are heard.

In 2017, we continued to draw attention to the data gaps regarding children living in vulnerable circumstances, particularly those in alternative care. Through our child-rights advocacy we also called for better quality in alternative care and a more integrated approach to addressing the employment needs for young people leaving alternative care. 

"Emotional support is more important than anything else for a child in care."

Yasmina, who grew up in an SOS Children's Village in Spain, spoke up for young people growing up in alternative care at the ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York.

Policy change in Italy

For the first time, the Italian government has established a fund for young people transitioning out of alternative care. Find out how we contributed to this change!

Youth participation

Learn more about the inspiring young people who are speaking up to help shape discussions that affect their future. Their voices count!

Our leading partners

Partnerships make our work for children possible. We can only accomplish what we do for children, young people and families thanks to the creativity, generosity and commitment of corporate, foundation and government partners.

By working together with partners towards shared goals, we have a greater, sustainable impact on the lives of the children, families and communities we serve.

Our leading partners

By the numbers



Revenue by continent


Programme expenditures by continent


Where we work

135 countries and territories

International Annual Report 2017

The care we promise