Strengthening Families

In many places around the world, families experiencing crisis or extreme hardship may have difficulties caring for their children. Beyond receiving sufficient nutritious food or having access to water and healthcare, children need to feel protected, encouraged and respected by reliable adults who love them unconditionally.

SOS Children’s Villages works with families, caregivers and communities to prevent crises that can lead to child-family separation. Our services strengthen and stabilize families and their social networks so that children are better cared for and protected.


In 2020, pandemic lockdown measures imposed by governments increased pressure on families already struggling to stay together. Worldwide,140 million more children slipped into poverty and more than 700,000 children lost a parent to COVID-19. In many countries, families in our programmes experienced increased fragility due to loss of income, isolation, and lack of access to health and education services. Lockdowns led to limitations or interruptions of vital support services.




This year, we adapted our services to help struggling families manage the crisis and ensure they could care for themselves and their children. We distributed basic food and hygiene kits; raised awareness on ways to prevent the spread of the virus; helped families to access government, education and community services; and conducted virtual counseling to help parents and caregivers cope with the added anxiety and stress. In Mongolia, for example, the family strengthening team provided food, vitamins, disinfectants, toiletries and school supplies. Some parents also received sewing machines to make masks to earn a living and help the community.


Single father Antony, raising two young children in Kenya, found himself forced to sell all his work tools and possessions to buy food after COVID-19 shuttered his shoe repair business. We supported families like his to make it through the pandemic and rebuild their lives so they so they can stay together.


family strengthening programmes worldwide in 2020


Although online learning worked for many children and young people around the world, those living in vulnerable conditions ‒ with limited or no access to electricity and the internet, or whose schools lack the capacity to offer digital learning – missed out on their education. Of the 1.5 billion students whose schools closed, more than 30% were unable to gain access through remote learning. In 2020, we supported many families to bridge the digital divide. In Adwa, Ethiopia, for example, more than 400 families received solar-powered radios to help children tune into and keep up with their studies.


In 2020, stay-at-home orders to contain the spread of infection led to sharp increases in reports of domestic violence around the world. Fortunately, SOS Children’s Villages has been running various types of programmes to stop violence in the home, such as our Active Fatherhood workshops in North Macedonia. These workshops provided parents with a good base for managing stress. Our social workers report that because of progress made before the pandemic, nearly all families were able to cope without resorting to violence.


Lockdowns in Peru left more than a third of Peruvians without food. A group of women in Nueva Ciudad Inca organized a soup kitchen to help each other by combining their resources. On a typical day, they fed over 250 people in the community.


community kitchens supported in Peru


Mental well-being is crucial for children and young people, and for parents to be able to care for their children. We offer mental health support to families, which was especially important in managing the anxiety of the pandemic. In Lebanon, for example, we counseled families struggling not only with the pandemic but also with the aftermath of a massive explosion in Beirut. With loved ones lost and homes destroyed, parents were emotionally devastated and their children fearful. Providing mental health support is key for their healing and resilience, and helps prevent the family from breaking down.







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