When do children leave the care of SOS Children's Villages?

There is no specific age at which children have to leave the SOS Children's Village. Usually, they stay in the care of SOS Children's Villages until they are capable of looking after themselves; until they have completed their education or vocational training and can make a living on their own.

How many children does one SOS Children's Village family have?

The families in industrialised nations are usually smaller than the ones in developing countries. A typical SOS Children's Village family in an industrialised country consists of four to six children while families in developing countries usually have seven to ten children.

Contrary to many child care models promoted by other organisations, SOS Children's Villages does not separate siblings. That is why some families might temporarily have more children.

Who decides whether a child is admitted or not?

The SOS Children's Villages association of the respective country defines the criteria of admittance within the scope of the guidelines set up by SOS Children's Villages International and according to the economic and social, and legal requirements within the country.

The decision whether to admit a child is then made by a committee consisting of the village director, an SOS mother, social workers, and sometimes the national director, in co-operation with the authorities. This committee decides whether a child is physically and mentally fit to be admitted to one of our villages and whether the child is in need of a permanent home. Should there be any of the child's siblings in need of care, these children would also be admitted to the village.

What are the criteria for establishing an SOS Children's Village in a country?

Before starting any activities in a new country several studies are carried out into feasibility and necessity. Additional checks have to be made to see whether SOS Children's Villages will be able to offer a valid supplementary contribution to help children in need.

Finally, an agreement must be signed with the government in which the foundations for cooperation are laid out (child care model, child admission, the legal position regarding taxation, questions about plots of land, etc.).

The financial and logistical feasibility also has to be examined. Only then can the actual construction of an SOS Children's Village go under way, as long as there is a suitable plot of land, suitably located in an area established as having the greatest need.

What leads to SOS Children's Villages becoming active in a new country?

The first initiative may come from a government, embassy, or individual with a special connection to the country in question and in-depth knowledge of the social situation, particularly when it comes to children. In some cases, an SOS Children's Villages co-worker might bring the special plight in a particular country to the organisation's attention.

A sudden emergency, such as war, natural disaster, or famine might also lead to SOS Children's Villages International offering help, usually by way of an SOS Emergency Relief Programme. Such temporary programmes might, in many cases, lead to SOS Children's Villages and/or other permanent facilities being established in the country.

What are SOS Promoting Associations?

SOS Promoting Associations are independent national SOS Children's Villages associations in accordance with the relevant national legislation and the statutes of SOS Children's Villages International, and members of SOS Children's Villages International.

SOS Promoting Associations make a major contribution to the funding of SOS Children's Village activities all over the world. They provide financial resources where the national associations are not able to meet the total funding requirements locally. Several SOS Promoting Associations even run their own SOS Children's Villages facilities in their countries.

What is a National Office?

Each SOS Children's Villages association establishes a National Office to coordinate the activities of all SOS Children's Villages facilities in the respective country. The National Offices are there to carry out necessary tasks (e.g. accounting, liaison with other organisations and government authorities, sponsorship services etc.) in the most efficient and economical way.

What is the difference between SOS Children's Villages International (former SOS-Kinderdorf International) and SOS Children's Villages?

SOS Children's Villages" is the English name of the entire organisation, active in 134 countries and territories through national associations.

SOS Children's Villages International is the name of the umbrella organisation of all SOS Children's Villages associations. As the umbrella organisation has been registered as an association with the Austrian authorities, the legal name used is a German language term. You are currently browsing the website of SOS-Kinderdorf International.

All SOS Children's Villages associations have their own local boards and are responsible for the organisation's activities in the respective countries.

What are "supporting facilities"?

The supporting facilities are all the facilities that are based around the SOS Children's Village itself. These can be kindergartens, SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools, vocational training centres, social centres, medical centres etc. Supporting facilities are not only open to SOS Children's Village children and youths, but also to the local community.

What is an SOS Children's Village?

Every SOS Children's Village offers care and stability in a family-style environment to children who have lost their parents or can no longer live with them. Four to ten boys and girls of different ages live together with their SOS mother in a family house, and eight to fifteen SOS Children's Village families form a village community.

The so-called "four principles" - the SOS mother, the sisters and brothers, the family house and the SOS Children's Village - form the basis and the framework of the concept of our work at the SOS Children's Villages. The foremost of these principles is the mother, or mother-centred care.

Who founded SOS Children's Villages?

Hermann Gmeiner, a native Austrian, founded the first SOS Children's Villages association in Austria in 1949, following the Second World War. His aim was to provide orphaned and abandoned children with a loving family, home and community in which to grow. The first SOS Children's Village was built in Imst in the Austrian province of Tyrol the same year. The very first house in the village was named 'House of Peace'.