Europe: Children and Youth

Student at the CWS Inclusive Early Childhood Education Program
Thirty children attend the CWS Inclusive Early Childhood Education Program at the House of the Red Cross in Mala Krsna outside Smederevo, Serbia. In addition to their education, students receve two nutritious meals a day thanks to the RC's soup kitchen. Photo: CWS Europe

While CWS programming is diverse, one priority is our work with at-risk children.  The multi-dimensional nature of child poverty and social exclusion requires complex, integrated responses. CWS programs in education and livelihoods, food security, water and sanitation, health and nutrition reach out to children in urban and rural areas, making a difference for each child we reach.


While there are considerable programs in Serbia to serve vulnerable communities such as the Roma, many children still live without stability or even a steady source of food.  The situation is especially dire in Belgrade, where most Roma resettled in search of jobs, yet soaring unemployment forces children to work menial tasks and rummage through dumpsters in order to provide for their families.

CWS education programs in Serbia offer timely inclusion of children in pre-school with a safe, supportive environment and increases their readiness to enroll in first grade.  These programs also improve access to integrated services that address underprivileged children's basic needs.  The Branko Pesic primary school in Zemun, Belgrade and the Educational Center in Smederevo have seen increases in school enrollment and academic success.


There is a large number of underserved and vulnerable children in Moldova, a small country where approximately 10,000 children live in orphanages and boarding schools.

CWS's joint project with Salvati Copii Moldova promotes family and community-based alternatives to institutional care, fully engaging parents and selected communities to facilitate and strengthen child and youth support groups and raise awareness on child rights and protection issues.  In 2011, for example, 36 children in need were placed within a network of nine family-style children's homes.

In the town of Orhei, CWS works with the Social Mission Diaconia's Service Centre, providing temporary residential services for orphans who are transitioning out of institutional living.  Opened in 2007 as a home for six children, the centre has grown and now can accommodate and provide services to 44 children at risk.