What happened to the children?

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What happened to the children of Romania? (2010, Romania - why) It is 20 years since the world found out about the thousands of children locked away in Romania's state institutions. Markku Sosimaki (Dada), the head of AMURT Romania, agree the conditions were improved but the children were not prepared to leave the care system when coming to the age of 18 years old. They did not just lack emotional support - they also lacked basic life and work skills such as how to cook, iron a shirt, keep a job or solved an argument through compromise. "When they leave orphanage... they didn't really have a choice about what to do next," he said, pointing to the slab of concrete under a billboard that is home of many homeless youth of Bucharest today.

Homeless and runaway youth are the victims of neglect, abandonment, or severe family conflict. They can't return to their families, but they are not yet equipped to live on their own. They didn't learn basic skills that most adults, and even other youth, take for granted, so life skills training plays an important role in the project of AMURT Romania in Domnesti village near Bucharest.

In the efforts to prepare these young people for adulthood, in partnership with the local public institution, AMURT Romania started one new project for homeless youth in 2009. AMURT has developed a successful response to the problems of young people leaving the care system - an unique transitional program.

In Romania very few NGOs have taken on this particularly challenging target group – and even fewer programs have been successful in helping them to leave the streets and integrate into society. The failure rate has been exceptionally low, which is a real success for this type of program that typically experiences a 60% dropout. At least 80% will be capable to live independently in a social or private residence, rather than onto the street or to a homeless shelter.