It is a human right for a child to grow up “in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding” (UNCRC, 1989). Yet in Slovakia there are still approximately 5,000 children in 100 children’s homes. There is extensive evidence about the detrimental effects of institutional care and how many children fail to integrate into society when leaving the care system.
BUDDY finds, trains, matches and continuously supports caring mentors for these vulnerable children. This one-to-one long-term mentoring relationship helps children overcome their traumas and acquire essential skills for a successful integration into society.
My plans with the 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Award
We would use the funds mainly towards improving our monitoring and evaluation, and prepare the program for growth:
- Prepare a program manual/blueprint.
We are reviewing our processes to identify areas of weakness, improve these, and standardise.
- Introduce standardised tools to measure the impact on the child in the short and medium term.
- Prepare for a possible external evaluation – an experimental study comparing children in the BUDDY program with other children in children’s homes.
- Introduce a system for weekly monitoring of needs and safety of the volunteer and the child.
How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
BUDDY provides the most important element missing in a life of an institutionalised child – a stable and caring adult. This mentoring relationship is therapeutical and brings safety and trust to the child’s life. Over many years the volunteer mentor helps address the children’s individual needs, transition through adolescence, improve at school, discover their talents and passions, and empower them. They prepare the children for the real life outside the walls of an institution so they find a job and a home. The volunteer acts as a long-term safety net who can help the child turn his or her life around.