A lack of support to vulnerable families A little girl gets a hug from her SOS mother (photo: SOS archives) The village of Chvalčov has about 1,600 inhabitants and is situated in Moravia in the south-east of the country, near the provincial towns of Bystřice and Kroměříž, 90 kilometres north-east of Brno. Moravia is known for its beautiful countryside, its historic towns and its wines. The local tourism agency is trying to increase the number of visitors to the area, thus hoping to improve the lives of the local population. In the recent past the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has criticized the Czech Republic for the high number of children living in institutions. In particular, there are a high number of Roma children who have lost parental care and are now living in orphanages. Children from the following social groups are also at risk of losing parental care: those with parents who have physical or mental disabilities, those who live in single parent families or in households where parents do not have a high level of education. In the region around Chvalčov, families who are in vulnerable situations often find it hard to obtain support. For example, there is a lack of social housing and shelters for mothers in crisis. As parents cannot meet the needs of the families, children are forced to beg for food or money, often dropping out of education in order to survive. A need to provide children with a loving home and young people with a future SOS Children's Villages has been very active in the development and implementation of the child protection policy in the Czech Republic. Given the high number of children without parental care, the SOS Children's Villages model of care, where children are looked after in loving SOS families rather than in state-run institutions, continues to be very important. Children who have grown up in SOS families are individually supported until they can live independently. What we do in Chvalčov Looking happy during a party in the SOS Children's Village (photo: SOS archives) SOS Children's Villages has been present in Chvalčov since 1973. Children who can no longer be cared for by their parents can find a loving home in one of the nine SOS families, where they live with their brothers and sisters and are cared for by an SOS mother. The children are fully integrated into the life of the local community as they attend the primary school in Chvalčov and secondary schools in Bystřice. They also participate in local cultural and sports' events. When young adults are ready to leave their SOS families they can move into the SOS Youth Programme in Brno (the largest city in the region) where they can live while they attend further education or receive training. With the support of qualified professionals they are encouraged to make their own decisions and take the first steps towards an independent life.