SOS Children's Villages have been working in this region of Estonia since 2010. This part of the country has one of the highest rates of children losing parental care in Estonia, and for this reason we have been working closely with authorities to try to ensure each child has the best chance of remaining in a loving home.
Pöltsamaa has a population of about 4800, and is a small town near the centre of the country, around 128km to the south east of the capital of Tallinn.
Families struggle to look after their children
Since the global economic crisis the government has invested heavily in the region's development. Even so, with the cost of living rocketing and wages not catching up, people struggle to make ends meet.
Parents without a job and on welfare, or those who have casual, badly paid work, struggle to care for their children. A large number of Estonians go abroad to work and send remittances home to support their families.
Other children who are at risk of losing parental care in this area of Estonia are those in single parent families or households with substance misuse or health problems. With higher than average poverty rates, this area of the country has some of the highest rates of children having to be looked after outside their biological families. Estonian children in poverty are often malnourished and this in combination with other issues associated with poverty often impacts on their mental and physical development. Such developmental delay can create behavioural difficulties.
Children miss out on school
Some families cannot afford to buy school uniforms, learning materials or even send their children to school in the first place. In winter, this is a particular problem as due to the cold climate such children don't have the right winter clothes.
Local authorities are aware of the problems such families face and work hard to support them. Due to the recent global financial crisis, local authority budgets are tight and they don't always have the resources to help everyone.
What we do in Pöltsamaa
SOS Children's Villages works with authorities and families to help break dependence on the state and ensure families get to have full independence and can live by their own means. We run community outreach programmes from the SOS Children's Village in Pöltsamaa. These services are designed to enable families to live better lives - in the process giving children the best possible future given their circumstances.
For children who can no longer live with their families, we offer them places in one of our SOS families, and are cared for by SOS Mothers. The Pöltsamaa families are fully integrated into the community, with children playing as much a role in town life as they would living with their parents. They attend school in the community as they would in their own family homes. Each child is given a child development plan, written in consultation with the child, which maps out how best to support them into the future.
As children grow older and need more support, they are able to join the SOS youth programme in Tallinn. Young people live in shared, supported accommodation while attending further and higher education or vocational training, and are given guidance as to making the best decisions for their future by qualified youth counsellors.
From babies up to young adults, we care for children in Pöltsamaa who would otherwise have nothing and noone else. You can support one of these individuals by sponsoring a child today.