The Lithuanian Children’s Foundation is one of the longest operating charity foundations in Lithuania with the history spanning over 30 years. Its success in working with Lithuanian children and families providing a wide range of social services can be attributed to the adaptation of various new research-based methodologies and methods in Lithuania: in 2001, the foundation adapted the German productive learning program, in 2012 the organisation started implementing the Dutch Aflatoun program, in 2017, a mediation program was adapted from Germany, etc.
Since its establishment in 1988, the Lithuanian Children’s Foundation has initiated and supported the introduction of alternative forms of child care to institutional care in Lithuania and, together with 12 municipal administrations, established 14 family-based care homes. With the help of the foundation, a variety of communities appeared: the community for people with intellectual disabilities “Viltis”, the community of large families “Vilniaus Šeimyna”, etc.
Between 1993 and 1995, the foundation cooperated with the Christian Children’s Fund from Richmond, US (today ChildFund International). Based on their experience, support programs for individual children were launched (“Šeimynos”, “Šeimos Lietuvos Vaikams” and “Viltis”). Over 500 children received support during the period. In 1995, the fund in Richmond discontinued financing, but the foundation had established cooperation with the Sunlight Orphan Aid for Lithuania from Chicago, US. Over 30 years, more than 460 children received support from this organisation. Many children have been supported for a number of years.
Since its establishment, the foundation has been working intensively with the children from national minorities. The integration of the Roma community received special attention of the foundation. After the municipality of Vilnius had allocated a parcel of land in 1998, the foundation together with its partners co-financed the construction of the Roma Community Centre. In 2000–2002, together with a partner from France, the foundation initiated in Lithuania the provision of social services to the Roma community, arranged employment of the members of the Roma community as teachers’ assistants, and helped start pre-school education of Roma children. In 2000, together with partners, the foundation set up a public institution the Roma Community Centre. In 2004-2008, in cooperation with 7 Lithuanian and 5 international partners the foundation implemented the innovative equal project with a strong focus on developing the competences of the project participants.
In 2016, the Lithuanian Children’s Foundation, Trakai Education Centre and the Lithuanian University of Educational Studies organized training of educational staff within the framework of the European Economic Area study program. During the project, the Aflatoun program textbooks for European children aged 3-6 and 7-14 and non-formal education handbooks were translated and published.
The Lithuanian Children’s Foundation, together with the partner organization AFLATOUN INTERNATIONAL and organizations from 18 other countries, is developing the Aflatoun program in Europe (EU Erasmus + program funding). At the moment, Aflatoun is developed by two regional coaches. In June 2016, at an event organized by the Ministry of Education and Science, the development of the Aflatoun program in the country was analysed with the participation of Ketevan Sulava, Secretariat Aflatoun program manager and Central Asia.
In 2017, thanks to the contribution of the Lithuanian Children’s Foundation, the Aflatoun program of the social and financial literacy was accepted and Loreta Trakinskienė, the regional coach from the Faculty of Pedagogics of the University of Applied Sciences in Vilnius, was invited to adapt the program for teaching the students of pre-primary, primary education and social work study programs. The case study (V. Juškienė, 2017) showed that students were very positive about the Aflatoun program and its applicability in practice. Training under the Aflatoun program continues at the Faculty of Pedagogics of the University of Applied Sciences.
In August 2017, 10 coaches were trained in Alytus, one of the majors cities in Lithuania. At present, 1,150 children from six local schools participate in the Aflatoun program. This innovative program has attracted children and they take part in the training of personal understanding, financial literacy, and social skills.
The Lithuanian Children’s Foundation has mastered the dissemination of innovative social engineering solutions at a state level, is capable of initiating institutional changes and provides methodological assistance to other organizations. In 2012–2015, the Career Education project was successfully implemented and involved 182 children from social risk groups, children without parental care (from 16 years of age), and children presently/formerly at social care homes and special boarding schools (16-29 years of age). The success story of the project received the 2014 award.
Currently, the Lithuanian Children’s Foundation implements two ESF-funded projects “Social integration of elderly persons” (No. 08.3.2-ESFA-K-415-01-0002) and “Successful career academy” (No. 08.3.1-ESFA-K-413-01-0015) in Vilnius County.
The founder and director of the Lithuanian Children’s Foundation and the team have been working since the establishment of the foundation. This is the main creative, organizational and executive team which manages EU projects, international relations, and latest programs to promote nurturing of the environment for children, welfare of families and the integration of national minorities. The Lithuanian Children’s Foundation is like a sign of excellence that represents our country abroad.
Wishing the organisation successful initiatives and continuation of ongoing work.