Children's Help Center and Humanitarian Association Oaza

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Who are we?

Help Center for Children and Humanitarian Association OAZA is a church activity and non-profit organization that helps to care for children in need. Our primary goal is to help the children to grow up in a good family environment rather than in institutions or their own very troubled families. Our main activities are to support foster families and foster children, and to promote and encourage the foster care of children in Istria and Croatia.

So far we have provided care for 117 children - 16 of them were put up for adoption, 52 returned to their families when family conditions were improved, 14 were transferred to another family or institution, 9 continued their life as independent adults, and 31 are still in foster care. We currently provide additional support for 3 former foster children who have started their independent life. Therefore, we are currently providing help to 12 foster families in Pula, Vodnjan, Štinjan, Rijeka, Pozega, Pakrac, Zagreb, Velika Gorica and Daruvar, and one Family Home in Petehi in Istria.

Our foster parents receive regular monthly financial compensation for their work with children, so that both foster parents do not have to be employed, and we pay for the extended pension insurance for one of the foster parents who foster 2 or 3 children. In this way we ensure that they devote all of their time to children. So far we have been helping only the foster parents in Istria, but there is a great need for such support, so as of September 2014 we have begun to expand our assistance to other parts of the Croatia as well.

Activities

In order to develop better quality foster care in Croatia, OAZA is engaged in the following activities:

  • Organizing support and helping foster parents with their needs and the needs of foster children
  • Organizing free time of children and youth in foster care
  • Organizing meetings of foster parents at regional and national level
  • Organizing regional meetings of all stakeholders in foster care of children, and the national conference on foster care
  • Collecting and processing data on the state of foster care in Istria and beyond
  • Proposing changes of legal provisions, with the goal to improve the foster care

Mission and vision

Mission of the Help Center for Children and Humanitarian Association OAZA

Children without adequate parental care are growing up in a quality family environment, and the necessary help and support is provided for children who need them.

Vision of the Help Center for Children and Humanitarian Association OAZA

Help Center for Children and Humanitarna Association OAZA are partner non-profit organizations, which promote the foster care for children without adequate parental care in a quality family environment, and which provide the help for all children in need in the Istria County and Croatia, through the collection and distribution of humanitarian aid, cooperation with state and local authorities and institutions, and through the the organization of meetings and support for foster families.

The beginnings

The work on helping children without parental care and other children in need started in Rovinj in 1993. During the war, at first this work was done by the "Oaza Center for Receiving Children", which was an activity of the Evangelical Church in Croatia. In order to provide new types of services, this Center in 2000 became newly founded "Humanitarian Association Oaza".

In 1996, in order to avoid the move of children placed in the reception center to another children's home, "Oaza" found first four foster families who took these children into their homes, and therefore provided a substitute for their own families. Since that year, all four foster families have been regularly receiving monthly financial and material assistance for children, they renovated and equipped their residential properties and vans were purchased for each family. Families have also been receiving the assistance in the organization of their work with children. Each family initially cared for up to 8 children, but that number later had to be reduced due to the legislative changes, so now each family can foster only up to 3 children. As it is very difficult to find new foster families in Istria and the number of foster parents is decreasing by each year, we are still actively working on the promotion of foster care of children in Istria, and have expanded our work to other parts of Croatia.

In October 2010, in order to avoid the necessity to remove the children form the families in which they had been living for 8 years, which was imposed by the legislative changes, Oaza has helped to establish the first Family Home for children in Istria, where up to 10 children can be placed and fostered. In order to communicate many years of its experience in working with foster parents and children and therefore help to develop quality foster care in Croatia, Oaza has in collaboration with other foster care associations from Croatia established the "Forum for Quality Foster Care", which is a network of foster care associations that uses its joint activities to promote, encourage and develop high-quality forms of family placement of children without adequate parental care in Istria and in Croatia.

Past work

Help Center for Children and Humanitarian Association OAZA are partner organizations, organized as a group of foster parents and other persons who wish to actively participate in helping children in need, and in enabling the children without the adequate parental care to live, grow up and develop in the replacement family. Humanitarian Association OAZA is based in Rovinj and was founded as a continuation of the work of church activity "CENTRE FOR RECEIVING CHILDREN", which began to care for and help the children in need during the Croatian War of Independence.

Since 1993 until now OAZA has found, renovated and equipped 5 home facilities for foster families, and helped to care for 117 children, of which 16 of them were put up for adoption, 52 returned to their families when family conditions were improved, 14 were transferred to another family or institution, 9 continued their life as independent adults, and 31 are still being cared for in 12 foster families and in the Family Home.

Work with foster families and Family Home

In order to enable the children living in this area to grow up in families, OAZA has over the years developed a form of professional care for up to 3 children in a family and up to 10 children in the Family Home, where it:

  • provides regular financial assistance for the unemployed foster parents and pays their exzenden pension insurance, therefore permitting them to devote all their time to children
  • provides regular financial and material support for the operation of the Family Home
  • provides the premises for childcare
  • renovates and equips the premises when needed
  • provides monthly financial support for children who were not placed based on tje decision of the Center for Social Welfare
  • provides vehicle maintenance for foster families
  • provides support and assistance to foster parents in any way
  • supports the children and young adults from foster care by organizing regular weekly activities
  • collects humanitarian aid in food, clothing, footwear and equipment

Support for the development of foster care in Istria

OAZA is a partner of the Association of Foster Parents from Istria County, and therefore implements joint activities related to the foster care of children in Istria, aiming to increase the number of children in family housing, and to reduce and shorten the stay of children in the institutions.

According to the data collected by the Centers for Social Welfare in Istria, a large number of children was in years 2008 - 2013 placed in the institutions, or in a foster families outside Istria. As it is extremely important for children to grow up in a family environment, their stay in the institutions should be shortened to the necessary minimum, and it is important that children stay in their original environment in order to have contact with their biological parents, relatives and friends.

The dominant foster care model in Istria is kinship foster care, where the majority of foster parents are grandparents of a child. They did not choose to be foster parents, but became foster parents due to the force of circumstances, and will remain foster parents until the child is under their care. Although they are very emotionally attached to the child, they are not able to foster other children.

There are not many non-kinship foster families in Istria, and most of them operate within the framework of the Nadomak sunca Association or OAZA Association, and are the families who have chosen to provide foster care for a long time and are willing to foster a larger number of children. As new Foster Care Act defines that one foster care family cannot foster more that 3 children, and all foster parents in Istria already foster that many children, that means that new children without adequate parental care who are from this area, and who have no relatives who want to care for them, are most likely to be placed in an institution or family outside Istria, for a longer period of time. Therefore OAZA works to promote, encourage and foster the development of quality, trying to interest a new family from Istria to decide to adopt of children. That is why OAZA works on the promotion, encouragement and the development of quality foster care, trying to attract new Istrian families who will hopefully decide to foster children.

Support for the development of quality foster care in Croatia

In 2006, in order to communicate many years of its experience in working with foster parents and children to the others and help to develop quality foster care in Croatia, Oaza has become one of the co-founders of the network of foster care associations, the "Forum for Quality Foster Care".

In order to work on this issue, OAZA was for 3 years the main partner in the project that was financed by the Netherlands Foundation and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As a member of this network, OAZA each year participates in the organization of the conference for foster parents, meeting of the foster families of Croatia, training for foster care associations, meetings with the representatives of various Ministries, roundtables and meetings with the representatives of the Centers for Social Welfare.

In September 2014, due to the great need for assistance, OAZA has started to help the new foster families in Rijeka, Pozega, Pakrac, Zagreb, Velika Gorica and Daruvar.

Future work plans

OAZA will continue to support the operation of foster families in Istria, it will continue to provide the necessary financial and material support for the operation of the Family Home in Petehi, and will continue to help the organization of leisure activities for children and young adults from foster care, in collaboration with the Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Pula.

Due to the great demand, OAZA is expanding its work and starts to assist the foster families and children from other parts of Croatia (Rijeka, Pakrac, Požega, Zagreb, Daruvar, Velika Gorica).

OAZA will continue to promote, encourage and develop quality foster care in Istria and Croatia, in collaboration with other organizations for foster care and stakeholders in childcare. It will continue to implement the activities that help foster parents and children, it will organize regional meetings of all stakeholders in childcare and meetings of foster parents from Istria and Croatia, and it will continue to collect and process data on the state of foster care of children in Istria for each year. OAZA will also continue to support the work of the "Forum for Quality Foster Care of Children" and in the implementation of their activities.

Objectives of Oaza

Strategic objective No. 1

  • Assisted placement of children in foster families that already operate in the Association, and the assistance for the Family Home in its regular activities.

Activities for the strategic objective No. 1

  • Facilitating employment for an indefinite period of time for two foster parents, salary depends on the number of children cared for, providing care to nine children without parental care for 24 hours a day all year round.
  • Securing additional monthly financial assistance needed for up to nine children in foster care, depending on the age of the child, collecting funds through participation in tenders two times a year, collecting funds through the regular semiannual reports for the existing and new potential donors 2 times a year.
  • Securing additional monthly financial assistance needed for up to 10 children, and thus enabling the Family Home to function.
  • Securing the material humanitarian aid for three foster families and the Family Home that operate in the Association, collection and distribution of material humanitarian aid from Croatia two times a year, the collection and distribution of humanitarian aid from abroad two times a year.
  • Facilitating the necessary renovation and equipping of three foster families and the Family Home, collecting donations in materials from local factories and companies once a year, collecting purpose-specific financial assistance by sending letters to possible donors once a year, organizing renovation work if necessary.
  • Securing the vehicles and help for vehicle maintenance for foster families and the Family Home.
  • Visitation and support for foster parents and the owner of the Family Home, and the children, once in two months for each of the three foster families and the Family Home.
  • Counseling and support for foster parents, the owner of the Family Home and foster children whenever they have a need for it.
  • Organizing regular meetings and gatherings of 3 foster familes and the owner of the Family Home, and children staying with them, once in two months.

Strategic objective No. 2.

  • Promoted and encouraged foster care, subsidized deinstitutionalisation and quality family accommodation for children who are placed outside their own family in Istria County, and
  • Promoted and encouraged foster care, subsidized Deinstitutionalisation and quality family accommodation for children who are placed outside their own family on the territory of Croatia.

Activities for the strategic objective No. 2

  • In collaboration with other organizations in Istria, organizing gatherings and meetings of foster parents and associations from Istria, and exchange of experiences, once in six months.
  • Organizing gatherings of young high school students in foster care and other youth every Friday in Pula.
  • Organizing gatherings of children attending 5-8 grades of primary school who are in foster care, and other children, every Saturday in Pula.
  • In collaboration with other associations in Istria, organizing two regional meetings with representatives of the foster parents, Centers for Social Welfare, counties, cities and municipalities
  • In collaboration with other associations in Istria, organizing lobbying and advocacy for family placement of children who are separated from their families, through the media, organization of presentations on foster care, three times a year.
  • Participation in regular meetings of the board of the Forum once in six months, and more frequently if required
  • In collaboration with other associations of foster parents from Croatia, participation in meetings with the representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare once a year, and more frequently if needed
  • In collaboration with other associations of foster parents from Croatia, organizing national meeting of foster parents once a year
  • In collaboration with other associations of foster parents from Croatia, organizing conferences for foster parents once a year
  • In cooperation with associations of foster parents form Croatia, planning regular work of the Forum office.
  • In collaboration with associations of foster parents from Croatia, planning further activities of the Forum.