‘The assistance provided is paramount in supporting caregivers to not feel alone in the journey of bringing up a child’

The City of Vilnius is the authority which ensures the provision of social services to the people of Vilnius help them to live in dignity. Nadežda Buinickienė is the head of the Social Services Division, told ESN about their process for children in need of parental care, and its approach to supporting families.

Five care centres in the municipality appoint a care coordinator to every foster family to support and assist them in the care process. Authorized with providing all necessary psychosocial assistance to adopted children, fostered children and children in guardianships, and their caregivers or prospective caregivers, care centres work to ensure that every child left without parental care can grow up in a family.

The assistance provided is paramount in supporting caregivers to not feel alone in the journey of bringing up a child, support which is particularly valued in moments of crisis. The care coordinator and other specialists of the care centre help caregivers to understand better the developmental characteristics of the child, the best parenting techniques to apply and constructive solutions to conflict, as these are key factors in family well-being. Care centres also provide training for those preparing to become carers and assess the care provided by carers. They work with professional guardians called “on-call guardians” in Lithuania and coordinate the activities of these guardians. Children under guardianship are cared for a limited period up to a year, and maximum of 1.5 years.

Realizing the importance of the service, they ensure that the assistance of the care centers is provided continuously throughout the care period until the child reaches the age of 18, with possibility to continue until 21 year of age if required.

We asked Nadežda how ESN has supported the City of Vilnius and she told us:

‘ESN provided us with support and opportunities to share and exchange valuable ideas and thoughts with other countries. By participating in ESN events, we can share our achievements and have an inspiring discussion in our areas of work. Participation in the activities ESN is very important for us, as we acquire new knowledge and competencies that help us to improve the organization, management, quality of social services, introduce new working methods and new innovative services.’