Young People in Care

Since 2012, the Gulbenkian Foundation has been developing a series of initiatives aimed at children and young people in care under the umbrella of the Protection and Promotion System. Four projects were therefore supported in four care institutions of varying kinds located in different parts of the country. The main goals of these projects were to increase young people’s independence by preparing them for life after care and to enable young people who had been taken away from their families to develop their personal and social skills and their emotional self-regulation. To enable them to integrate fully into society and to sustain themselves after leaving the institution, young people were taught about and given training in daily activities such as running a home, preparing food and managing resources. They were also given civic training and training in the prevention of risky behaviour.

The needs of institutions were also identified and initiatives were developed to train the technical and educational teams to improve their ability to work with the 201 young people who benefited from these projects as well as future residents.

Each of the projects explored a different intervention methodology: the Via Nova Association (Vila Real) opted to work closely with families to prepare them for the possible return of young family members in care; the São José (Braga) Office began by encouraging the supervised execution of domestic tasks, appointment making and trips to the supermarket; at the Casa do Canto (Ansião) a structure was created to support and supervise young people who had been institutionalised; and at the Lar de Nossa Senhora de Fátima (Reguengos de Monsaraz), the entire organisational culture was changed, with particular attention being paid to the training of human resources and the personalisation of spaces to make the home a more familiar and welcoming place.

These projects involved 79 specialists and managers and 70 organisations that established local partnerships.

In parallel, and with the aim of training specialists and organisations, three meetings with specialists in the field, one international conference and six workshops were held over three years (2012-2015). Five thematic brochures, coordinated by the technical supervision team working on the projects, with contributions from specialists at the institutions, were also published.

The scientific supervision and monitoring of these projects was carried out by lecturers/researchers at the University of Coimbra, the University of Trás os Montes e Alto Douro and the Higher School of Education of the Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon.

A final publication that will examine the main results and recommendations arising from this trial is currently being prepared and is scheduled to be released in 2016.