A new guide on children leaving institutional care hopes to ease their transition to adulthood in the Czech Republic

The launch of the Společně po svých (“Going our own way together”) guide in the Czech Republic. (2022). (PHOTO: Nadační fond Krok domů)

More than 8,000 children in the Czech Republic are currently growing up in institutions. Every year, 300 of them leave institutions to start their adult life, 60% of whom prove unable to obtain advice on how to integrate into society and take care of themselves.

A new book called “Going Our Own Ways Together” (Společně po svých) was published this year by the Krok doů (Go home). The organization is now distributing it to all regional authorities in the country and familiarizing them with its content.

Workshops on the guide began in May for workers who focus on adult welfare. So far, eight regions have held the workshops and the remaining regions will familiarize themselves with the contents of the publication during the fall.

The 80-page illustrated manual features practical advice as well as the experiences of young adults who have already made the transition from institutional care to independent living. According to the executive director of Krok doůKlára Chábová, Czech society has long been unable to listen to what children who grow up in institutions without their parents have to say.

“Quite often we fail to get to know their needs, we’re afraid to communicate with them because we don’t want to hurt them any more, so we’re afraid to admit we’re ‘just’ not doing it. know the answers to their questions,” Chábová told news server In addition, the care system for children endangered by the family situation is, according to her, confused, fragmented and so slow to evolve that it does not always meet the needs of children.

“Currently, we are planning trips to all regions to present the guide to local child protection workers, social workers and labor office staff to explain how to use it,” Chábová told the news server. The publication reviews four central issues that young adults face as they leave institutional life and live independently.

Housing/employment, relationships, self-esteem and therapy are the topics covered. The guide is designed primarily for those who come into contact with these teenagers and young adults.

“We present specific advice on how to work with them in practice, how to communicate with them and who to contact if needed. The guide also includes stand-alone inserts designed for teenagers and young adults with information on contributions custody, among other issues,” added Andrea Šafařík, project manager at the foundation.

The guide also includes a comic book titled Katerina, which was created by illustrator Martina Kurková Nožičková based on the real life story of a young girl to show where the “system” could have supported her more and where it completely failed. The foundation was established in 2019 to fight for a change in the current situation of young adults aging out of children’s homes in the Czech Republic.

The mission of the foundation is to increase the chances that these young people manage in “real life” after leaving a children’s home. The guide will be distributed in printed form to ministries or regional authorities and can be downloaded free of charge from the foundation’s website,