Beneficiaries of the Children’s Support Center are often directed there as victims of domestic violence and trafficking, children with behavioral problems, teenagers in trouble with the law and runaway youth who are tracked down by the police. Statistics show that children from single-parent households and of underprivileged parents are more likely to run away and become involved in dangerous activities. Many children come to the center with health problems, and nearly all of them are psychologically depressed.
Children’s relationships with their parents often get strained at the stage of adolescence, to a critical point, as a result of which many of them run away from home. This happens especially in cases of drastic deterioration of life circumstances. Many children remember growing up in a happy family with both mother and father, but the reality they face is a result of the quarrels between and the eventual divorce of their parents. Busy contending for their parental rights in continuous trials, the former couple often disregards the children’s opinions and well-being.
Such tribulations hinder youngsters from opening up about their troubles. Only some of them may tell their stories, but for others, it takes long months – even years – to somehow reveal their problems. Once at the Children’s Center, many remain silent during their first meeting with the specialists. In fact, they stay protective of their personal space for a long time after being welcomed to the Center. Even in their scarce communication within this new environment, they often look at their elder siblings as if asking for permission to speak out.
It is vital that these children stop considering themselves inadequate. The Center works to alter beneficiaries’ perception of their lives as toys scattered on the floor by uncaring parents and adverse life circumstances. Here, children receive special individualized care from professionally trained staff of social workers, psychologists, and nurses work to return them to a safe family environment and avoid the methodical institutionalization that so many troubled children in Armenia face.
The Children’s Support Center, established in 1999 by the Fund for Armenian Relief, has since pursued its distinct mission as a full-service facility for at-risk children and their families. It is unique in working with both the children and their families to counsel, educate, and support them every step of the way with the goal of securing a stable and loving home for beneficiaries. In the process, the Center serves as a safe welcoming hearth for vulnerable children to lift them up from despair and to guide them to a better future.