Alternative quality care advisor in the team for alternative care & strategy
photo: © Stefan Lechner Photography
Christian likes to learn and exchange experiences. For more than 30 years, he has been working for and with SOS Children’s Villages Austria and Children’s Villages International in very different contexts and positions. He started as a researcher at the Social Pedagogic Institute, which he later directed. Over 30 programmes were started during his time as leader of the programme department in the Austrian association. Christian even spent some time as an educator in the Imst/Tirol village and other SOS locations in Austria. In 2008, he took over the role of international director of programme development in CVI. Of the policies developed there, his favourite is the SOS Children’s Villages Programme Policy. Christian is currently a consultant for SOS Children’s Villages International and is partially retired.
Being the father of a daughter and two sons, Christian says, “My children are already great adults.”
He was born in Vienna and grew up in Upper Austria with two brothers. In his spare time, Christian likes to do sports, read, talk with friends and relax. Being “a citizen of the global village”, he lives near Innsbruck where he has a treasure: thousands of books: novels, thrillers, history, philosophy and scientific literature on e.g. alternative care. He spends little time at h
ome because he travels a lot.
A loving home PLUS! Voting for an integral approach
I would like to share a few seconds of enlightenment with you, which I had on Monday, the first Harvesting workshop evening. We did a group mapping and Irene, one of the facilitator's, final question was "Who thinks children should have the right to grow up in a loving home?" Everybody agreed and continued as before. Apart from me. I stood alone and felt insecure and amazed at myself. Although I fully agree with the SOS slogan "A loving home for every child", I had the strong feeling that only 50 per cent of this sentence applied to children in alternative care. However, I did not know what was missing.
Next morning I found the other 50 per cent. A loving home is necessary and is a precondition, but love without expertise and specific knowledge about child development, traumatic experiences and behavioural problems fails the requirements for children in alternative care. A loving home without adequate skilled caregivers and without supportive structures, processes and management is not enough to accompany and support children in their individual development.
This awareness brought me into some ongoing flow waves and the power to rethink SOS Children's Villages, based on Hermann Gmeiner’s four principles:
- Today a man and a woman alone or together can be social parents. Family at SOS Children's Villages means family-like care. The "family" is the biological or the adoptive family. The family-like care approach opens the door for working together with the "family" in the best interests of the child.
- Children should be supported in alternative care integrated in a community until they can live alone: from care to aftercare.
- Everybody needs a shelter to feel secure.
- Everyone wants to live in and with a community. Not separated in a village where children cannot learn what is necessary to lead a good life in their community.
To achieve these four principles with a somewhat more modern interpretation, a child not only needs a loving home, but also adults with the necessary expertise to support children in today's complex environment.
Video Harvesting Workshop 2018