As part of our response to past organizational failures, SOS Children’s Villages has received the final report of an impartial, expert commission and welcomes its recommendations. The commission recognizes our progress in the past two years and the work that remains. The report is made public in line with our commitment to transparency.
SOS Children’s Villages does not tolerate abuse or violence against children and adults participating in our programmes or against the people who work for our organization. It deeply saddens us that there have been instances where we have failed to keep people safe.
Two years ago, we publicly apologized for the harm caused to those affected by past abuse, and we apologize again today. We continue to urge anyone with knowledge of wrongdoing anywhere in the SOS Children’s Villages federation to come forward. We will listen to and act on all allegations and remain focused on supporting the victims/survivors.
The Independent Special Commission
The Independent Special Commission (ISC) was established following reviews initiated by SOS Children’s Villages. It was part of our extensive Safeguarding Action Plan, adopted in 2021 to ensure that victims/survivors get the support they need and that we address the root causes of past failures.
We thank all those who came forward to raise concerns and to give evidence to the commission. We will do everything possible to do right by them so that SOS Children’s Villages delivers on its mission to ensure children and young people grow up with the support and relationships they need to become their strongest selves.
We are pleased that the commission recognized the progress we have been making in the past two years: We have put in place a global ombudsperson system to represent the needs of children and young people, and we have provided integral, individualized support to more than 500 victims/survivors. We have adopted stronger policies such as a new Code of Conduct and Child and Youth Safeguarding Policy. We have increased awareness of safeguarding risks across the federation. Further information on our progress is described in our Safeguarding Action Plan Progress Report.
The commission also concluded that significant work remains to complete the necessary transformation, including: improving human resources standards; conducting leadership audits at all levels; strengthening governance structures; and ensuring we meet our duty of care to child and youth care practitioners. Plus following up on the commission’s investigation reports and holding individuals, including leaders, accountable.
In its resolution responding to the ISC final report, our International Senate has recognized the need to re-design our current governance system and has committed to setting up a new mechanism for dealing with failures to comply with binding policies. It has also committed to background checks, annual declarations of interests, and mandatory safeguarding training for supervisory board members.
This work is paramount to ensuring a safe environment for children, young people, and the people who deliver our programmes. We must in particular do what is necessary to embed a culture of accountability and to address weaknesses in our governance systems.
Executive Board of SOS Children's Villages International
Safeguarding Info Hub
Independent Special Commission Report