As well as creating SOS families in our Children’s Villages we help local families to stay together through our “family strengthening programmes” (known as FSP).  Poverty and difficult life situations mean that many parents cannot care for their children adequately. SOS Family Strengthening Programmes aim to prevent family breakdown and child abandonment. Through material support, training, education, counseling and more, we build parents’ capacities to care for their children

Our family strengthening programmes are specifically targeted to the needs of each community and family. In many cases, these programmes offer nutritional and healthcare support for children and nursing mothers; children’s school fees, uniforms and materials; support to parents in establishing a steady income and stable home; training in parent­ing skills and household management; learning about children’s rights; and family counselling.

We also run other, wider-reaching community projects such as micro finance and food security programmes. The aim of these programmes is to enable families to stand on their own and to foster a safe, nurturing environment in which children can grow up.

Working with the wider community means we can reach beyond SOS Children’s Villages and help thousands of children and their families.

Family strengthening programmes
These ladies in Zambia got support from our family strenghtening program to start with chicken farming. This has contributed to better living conditions for their families.

Family Strengthening Programmes consists of a series of activities specially designed to support families so that they can carry out their responsibility of protecting and taking proper care of their children, whilst ensuring their educational and developmental needs are met.  This includes activities that build the family’s ability to support itself financially without the requirement for their children to work.

The main working points are:

  • To ensure families have access to basic needs for their children that will allow them to guarantee the children’s development, which includes educational, psychological, emotional, nutritional, medical and infrastructure support.
  • To support and teach families how to develop their skills in child care and protection. This includes helping mothers and fathers to develop their personal relationship skills, general knowledge and educational skills, to ensure they have a stable and sustained home and income, as well as to teach them how to administrate it so that they can guarantee the developmental needs of their children.
  • To strengthen the support network of those families in a vulnerable situation. We particularly support all members of the community to work together and in this way find their own solutions to the needs of these children and families.


The FSP in Malawi works to improve access to economic resources among families through income generation activities and village loans and savings associations. VSLA is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings. The purpose of a VSLA is to provide simple savings and loan facilities in a community that does not have easy access to formal financial services.

SOS Family Strengthening Programmes benefit children because:

  • The children are able to go to school and concentrate on their studies, in many cases because they will no longer need to work to help support the family
  • They have daily protection and care through the Community Centres which promote their participation and social networking, and ensure the fulfilment of their rights.
  • Their parents are provided with the necessary resources to raise a child:
  1. a basic education (many women do not have even a primary and/or secondary education) including hygiene, HIV/AIDS, health and home management
  2. training workshops focusing on vocational skills and self-esteem development
  3. financial and nutritional support at difficult times, including school fees for the children
  4. aid in securing a job and advocacy in basic rights
  5. micro-financing and loans to kick start an income stream
  6. development of community participation and organisation
  • Their families are counselled in building good family relationships, good manners, abandonment of use of violence, and improvement in expectations as a family whole.
  • In partnership with local authorities, the community is empowered by organisation of Family Committees and support groups, creating a social security network for the children.

As a result of these activities, life standards improve for the children and the family as a whole, preventing child abandonment as well as diminishing rates of children being separated from their families for economic reasons.  Overall the FSP improves the future prospects of the whole family through personal support and education.

Friends of SOS support our operational, development and implementation work of Family Strengthening Programmes

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You can help children who have lost their parents. They may have been orphaned by AIDS, natural disaster or conflict. Poverty may have forced their parents to give them up, or they may have been separated from their family by war.