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“Acolhimento Familiar: Desafios e Potencialidades em Portugal”

The event “Acolhimento Familiar: Desafios e Potencialidades em Portugal” (En. “Foster Care: Challenges and Potentialities in Portugal”) took place on June, 22nd, in Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

In this final conference 87 people participated. They were foster families, professionals, students, and others interested in this subject.

In the “Welcoming session”, we had speeches of:

Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins – Our host at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and its Executive Administrator, also a member of IAC’s Advisory Council, talked briefly about the importance of this topic in our society.

Dulce Rocha – IAC’s President shared how it is important to our institution to be involved in this subject, since our mission involves every child’s rights, including the right to have a family and grow up in a safe and affectionate environment.

Ana Jorge – Lisbon’s Holy House of Mercy Provider (Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa – SCML). Ana’s speech focused on how SCML has been improving its efforts to respond to child’s needs, as well as the availability to work with other institutions to promote foster care.

Rosário Farmhouse – The President of the National Commission for the Promotion of the Rights and Protection of Children and Young People spoke about protective measure in the context of our promotion and protection system.

Next, the session “Foster Care in Portugal in the XXI Century” was moderated by Fernanda Salvaterra and had the contribution of professionals related to Foster Care, who gave the practical perspective of foster care, and the latest investigations about this subject. Our speakers were:

Rui Godinho – The Director of the Children and Youth Department of Lisbon’s Holy House of Mercy.

Rui Azevedo – Technical Director of a Care Home for Children and Youth.

Both presented the work of their respective institution and how the foster care process works in each, from the evaluation and selection of families to the matching with a child. They also shared the difficulties in the intervention, how each institution overcomes them, and the activities to promote and attract candidates.

In this session, we also heard:

Eunice Magalhães – Researcher at CIS-IUL and assistant professor at the Master of Community Psychology, Protection of Child and Youth at Risk, shared her work regarding what motivates people to be foster families and how to recruit them.

In the following session “Being a Foster Family in Portugal”, moderated by Paula Paçó, we had three interventions of adoptive and foster families, who shared their personal experiences, as well as the perspective of other families with whom they contact and are part of their social support network:

Nadine Santos – President of the Portuguese Association for Foster Care (and a Foster Family).

Luiz Soveral – Foster family (who participated in the training in Portugal and Lithuania).

Maria Sequeira Mendes – Adoptive Family and the Coordinator of the project “Adopt and Foster”.

Afterwards, the team consisting of Fernanda Salvaterra, Mara Chora, and Rita Amaral dedicated a session to present the Conscious Parent Academy Project, its activities, and results (e.g., training, helpdesk, brochures). They also made a brief summary of the differences we found in foster care between Portugal, Poland, and Lithuania.

To finish  session, they showed the video with the testimony of the foster families who participated in the project.

Finally, the closing session was conducted by Vasco Alves (member of IAC’s Board) and Fernanda Salvaterra, who expressed their gratitude to everyone involved in the event.

We believe that the event was successful since we had a “full house” (as you can see in the photos). Participants’ feedback was given through a form, and the overall evaluation was positive (55.2% Very good; 34.5% Good).

Multiplier Event

Erasmus+ programme’s project implemented by partnership from three countries (Lithuania, Poland, Portugal) where My Family Academy is one of official partnership institution “Conscious Parent Academy – Replacement parent urgently needed!” is coming to an end and at this stage presents the results and a lot of experiences.

On the 1st of July, at the National event dedicated to guardians and their children “Children are children”, held in Vingio Park, and we had the opportunity to have separate place for project “Conscious Parent Academy – Replacement parent urgently needed! ” presentation (tent, stand, table where we put all the material) and we presented the project during the entire event by communicating with the families of guardians, with guardianship centers, we personally communicated and presented products in detail to more than 15 groups of representatives of guardianship centers.

On the 1st of July, 2023, the outcomes developed in the project were presented widely for more than 60 foster care centers who support foster families and prepare them to foster the child. The staff from My Family Academy had the great opportunity to present to the representatives of foster care centers based in various cities and districts of Lithuania all outcomes we developed in the project during 3 years. We presented them for more than 150 people and what is more for than half a dozen of target auditorium we shared developed outcomes via e-mails they gave during Multiplier event.

More information and all translated results will be shared as well at the end of the project.

During the event on the 1st of July, we presented not only achieved results, structured material for guardians and those who dream of becoming guardians and/or adoptive parents, but also shared experiences and good practices gain during the project lifetime. This we did having talks with every centre’s group personally, as well we shared leaflets and brochures of the books dedicated for guardians.

The main results of the project that we share and will share with everyone who wants to, and especially with the project’s target group:

  • a help desk document which was published and which contains the experiences of 3 European countries (Lithuania, Portugal, Poland), relevant legal issues, advice on how to prepare to be guardians and how to raise children with difficult behavior in the family who come from families with various social backgrounds. • 2 booklets “What to expect and what not to expect” when becoming a foster parent and/or adoptive parent. Books are full of illustrations, which can also be discussed with the children and thus establish common rules in the family.
  • Information about webinars for guardians.

During the event, we distributed project flyers and a stand was also set up, which also attracted visitors who had many questions and were interested in the project results.

During the event, the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda, Minister of Social Security and Labor Monika Navickienė gave a speech of welcome, as well the President visited stands and had talks with participants.

Indeed, a very instructive, revealing experience of the subtleties of life accompanied us for the entire 3 years, and cooperation with foster families, representatives of institutions that take care that children have families, prepare to be foster parents and adoptive parents brought impressions, knowledge, and experiences.

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