The Hungarian Government’s childcare policy is focused on providing children with families, Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog said on Monday at the official opening of the new SOS Children’s Village in Orosháza. The village was moved there from its previous location in Battonya.

Mr. Balog said at the opening ceremony that a family is a basic human right and children without their own family should be given foster families or at least foster mothers if possible. He said that since 1 January 2014 the Government is not allowing a single child under the age of 14 to be placed under state care; all children must be placed within the foster parent network. The SOS Children’s Village had been one of the pioneers of this policy, the Minister said.

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Balog stressed that childcare was the “lowest common denominator” in Hungarian politics with full consensus on the matter. Concluding his speech, the Minister said SOS meant ‘save our souls’ and “Hungary needs many good souls.”

Mayor of Orosháza Zoltán Dávid (Fidesz) said that the city had been preparing to host the village for a year and was proud to have the first integrated children’s village in Hungary. Director of the SOS network Gábor Gosztonyi said they had been planning the “Village of the future” since 2012. They had purchased 10 properties thanks to a 400 million forint (EUR 1.27 million) donation from the Danish Velux Foundation, HUF 250 million of which has been spent on renovation, while the rest will be spent on family protection programmes.

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In his speech, Founder of SOS Children’s Villages International Siddharta Kaul said there were also Children’s Village’s in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan and those children are in dire need.

The first Hungarian Children’s Village opened in 1986 in Battonya, including 10 families with 70 children. The new Village operated according to a new concept whereby foster families no longer live as an isolated unit, but live around the town in an integrated manner.