In the project “Safe Places, Thriving Children”, SOS Children’s Villages collaborated with partners to develop and deliver training for care professionals, support alternative care organisations to embed trauma-informed practices into their daily work, and elaborate policy recommendations to help ensure that child protection systems support children and young people who have been affected by trauma.

“Safe Places, Thriving Children – Embedding Trauma-Informed Practices into Alternative Care Settings” was a two-year project (2020-2022) co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union. Through the project, we sought to provide children and young people growing up in alternative care with the appropriate support in order for them to thrive and develop to their full potential.

The project was run in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages’ member associations from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Serbia, as well as experts from the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS) of the University of Strathclyde.


The problem

Children and young people in alternative care are highly vulnerable to adverse childhood experiences: Research shows that 75% of children in alternative care have experienced trauma prior to their alternative care placement.

Unfortunately, despite these common experiences, many care professionals are unequipped or not adequately trained in how to care for children and young people who have experienced trauma. 

These children need care professionals with the skills, knowledge and experience regarding their psychosocial and mental health, in order to build trust and strong caring relationships, and to help them overcome these adverse experiences.


The solution

We aim to give care professionals the tools and knowledge required to understand trauma and address the needs of children and young people affected by it. We do this by using trauma-informed care practices. 

The main characteristics of trauma-informed care are: 

Awareness - Everybody who provides alternative care is aware of the processes that affect children and young people who have experienced trauma. 

Structural change - The organisational structure and care framework in place involves understanding, recognising, and responding to the effects of trauma.

Safety - Physical, psychological and emotional safety for both children and caregivers is ensured. 

Empowerment - The care is set up in a way that helps children rebuild a sense of control and empowers them to be active in their recovery process. 


This project was co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union. Responsibility for this content lies solely with SOS Children's Villages International. The European Commission is not responsible for any information contained here.


Project contact

Ms. Florence Treyvaud-Nemtzov
Project Manager, “Safe Places, Thriving Children”


Further information

Why Children and Young Adults Need Trauma-Informed Practices


Final publication: Key messages, project outputs, and recommendations

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Target beneficiaries

The project targeted professionals working with children and young people without parental care in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Serbia. In Greece, Serbia, and Belgium, the project activities benefited professionals working with unaccompanied migrant and refugee children as well.

To improve the quality of care on a broader scale, the project involved professionals from diverse sectors in order to share working practices and establish understanding between services.  


Key project activities

Throughout the project, we have developed and implemented:  

1. An e-learning programme for professionals from the social, educational, health and justice sectors, to equip them to better understand and identify adverse childhood experiences and their impact on the development of children.   

2. Face-to-face trainings that have equipped 586 child care professionals in the target countries with the skills to implement a trauma-informed approach in their work with children and young people in alternative care.  

3. Organizational development workshops to embed trauma-informed care practices in 19 selected programmes/organisations providing alternative care in order to make a sustainable systemic change in those organisations.  

4. Policy recommendations to encourage the commitment of public authorities in supporting and implementing trauma-informed care practices on a national level. The adoption of these policy recommendations can have an impact on the wellbeing of 40,000 children living in alternative care. 


Participation of young experts

The participation of young people with experience of alternative care was vital in ensuring that their voices shaped the content of the project activities. At the start of the project, 89 young experts shared their views as part of the scoping activities, and 14 young experts were involved as co-trainers who supported the delivery of the training for professionals.

Young people from each of the project countries were also engaged in the project as part of the International Young Expert Group. The group provided guidance during the implementation of the project activities by giving feedback and inputs during the development of materials, sharing their views on the importance of trauma-informed practices at events and meetings with key stakeholders, and developing a set of key messages.


Read more about the project