Family Home for 4 Severely Disabled Children and Open-air Space for 9 Disabled Children in Rome

Project location: Italy, Rome
Project start date: February 2013 - Project end date: December 2013
Project number: 2012-105
Beneficiary: L'accoglienza Cooperativa Sociale ONLUS


Around 3.000 babies are abandoned every year in Italy. 9% of them are gravely disabled children with limited life chances and opportunities.

Severely disabled children are rarely adopted and their placement in foster care is equally problematic. Currently, there are 315 adoptable minors in Italy, for whom it is not possible to find a foster family. 64 of them are in Rome. There is also the case of those disabled children being abandoned twice, by their natural parents first and by their adoptive parents after the first difficulties. Disabled children abandoned after adoption are at least 100 every year. And when adoptive parents are no longer able to take care of these children a different solution is to be found.

Finally, cases of children with chronic conditions who live and grow up in a hospital for lack of a place where to live, healthcare difficulties, and lack of independence is unfortunately increasingly frequent.

Yet, specialized nursing homes for gravely disabled children in state of neglect and without a family of reference are very rare in the city of Rome. The only two existing structures are both managed by the Cooperativa sociale L'Accoglienza, a social cooperative founded in 1990 which seeks to promote the social inclusion of the disadvantaged groups into the mainstream of society by providing professional assistance and essential welfare services to single mothers, disabled children and their needy families.

Over the years, this cooperative has successfully implemented the following assistance projects:

- "Casa Betania", a residential nursing home currently hosting 8 minors from particularly disadvantaged backgrounds;

- "Casa di Marta e Maria", a residential nursing home for needy single mothers (currently hosting 4 mothers with their children)

- "Casa di Jessica e Mauro" and "Casa di Chala e Andrea", two residential facilities housing respectively 5 and 4 physically or mentally disabled children;

- "Il Nido d'ape", a day-care center for immigrant children;

- "Da tutti I Paesi", a fair trade laboratory providing work opportunities to women exiting residential homes (currently 15 women are involved in the project).

The Nando Peretti Foundation awarded a grant to Cooperativa sociale L'Accoglienza to support the start-up of a third nursing home in Rome (called "Terza Casa") for severely disabled children and their families.

The new nursing home will host up to 4 children aged 0-14, with severe or medium severe physical or mental disabilities who have been placed in foster care by the Tribunal for Minors. The new structure intends to deliver a person-centered model of care, within an expanded family environment able to provide a warm, and caring home for a restricted number of minors, continuously assisted by a team of professionals 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

The project recognizes the centrality of the family atmosphere to the rehabilitation of disabled children. After experiencing the trauma of abandonment, the admission to a residential home turns out to be "by itself" a rehabilitative experience for these children, due to the strong positive implications which the family environment is able to exercise on the educational/psychological development of the child. Furthermore the disadvantaged child is helped to use a range of services (physiotherapy, school, sanitary dispensaries, etc.) integrated on the territory, allowing him to live a life as close as possible to that of his normal school mates.

The presence of a highly specialized team of professionals allows to integrate the family atmosphere with the provision of appropriate therapeutic assistance to the children. In particular , children are followed by a developmental neurologist.

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