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Rendering support to prevent from further slipping



"There is a lack of complex approach to work with children of social risk groups in Latvia", notes the project manager at "PROVIDUS", Ms. Ilona Kronberga. Repressive means are often used. During the past few years the awareness in the society has been raised that juvenile delinquency can not be resolved with mere punitive means. It is necessary to reduce the risk of exclusion of children with disturbed social behaviour, as well as to create favorable and safe environment fostering development and growth of these children. The issue to be addressed is: ”How to render support to children and youngsters before things have happened?”

Centre for public policy "PROVIDUS" in cooperation with Swiss Institute for Children's Rights is implementing a project aimed at establishment of a cooperation model among institutions involved in work with high social risk children and youth. This project is just one among more than fifty projects that are being implemented with financial support from Swiss Confederation and the Republic of Latvia during 2011-2012.

The target group includes 240 children and youth of interest to the Police, juvenile delinquents, who were placed in social correction educational institutions and have been released from detainment, as well as 9 seniors. The project is currently being implemented in three counties in Latvia: in Madona, Saldus and Cesis. Cooperation partner in the project – Swiss Institute for Children's Rights deals with collecting of best practive regarding most effective measures for prevention of juvenile delinquency.

In line with the activities envisaged in the project, an interinstitutional cooperation model was established in local municipalities by setting up a territorial working group in each local government. The tasks of these territorial working groups include the selection process of children and youngsters and cooperation with the coordinators of the project to involve children in useful leisure activities: sports, tourism, art classes, basics of entrepreneurship and military service. 34 meetings of the territorial working groups were held during the first six months since the start of the project. 120 children were selected for project activities during the first three months of the project.

Useful leisure time activities were carried out for children and youngsters with high social risk assessment in all three localities of the project implementation. These activities were selected from a catalogue of activities specifically tailored to the needs in each project location. For instance, in Madona, classes were held in psychology, communication, gift preparation, guitar play, photography, and canine studies. In Saldus, activities included familiarising with traffic regulations and passing of an examination to obtain a bicycle riding licence, as well as beauty care classes and combat classes. Training and practical hands-on exercises in the Fire Rescue Service, involving use of an operative fire rescue vehicle, were of particular interest to youngsters. Classes were also organized about safety on roads in cooperation with the Road Police. In Cesis, classes were held in crafts, art therapy for groups. Visits to swimming pool were also on the list. This is only a brief insight into the catalogue of activities that were available for children and youngsters within this project.

With respect to implementation of a support system for juveniles, identification of best practice is continued. This practice is evaluated in  all locations of the project implementation. An experience exchange seminar was organized for specialists working with juveniles to address and discuss complicated practical issues, as well as to examine theoretical background of a respective issue in question.

Appropriate and sustainable support system for prevention of juvenile crime is expected to be created and tested as a result of this project. This system is envisaged to be specifically tailored to the territorial peculiarities Latvia. As interinstitutional cooperation has already been established, a ray of hope emerges, that attitude towards working with children belonging to social risk group will change in future, becoming more supportive and regenerating, rather than punitive.


Article written: September 2011