In Gironde, the first EcoVillage to welcome the siblings of caring children

This Tuesday, May 24, the Gironde Division and the Action Enfance Foundation inaugurated EcoVillage for young minors, which opened last January. This unique site in Girond is located in the town of Sablon in the LeBron area and welcomes 54 children, including 22 siblings.

At first glance, one might think that the Children’s Ecovillage looks like any other residential estate in the small town of Sablon (1350 inhabitants) and the isolated house set in the middle of the forest. However, this site is the first of its kind in Girond: it brings together siblings of caring children instead of separating them into different foster families or social children’s homes (MECS).

This type of alternative child care still remains marginal: it concerns only 2.5% of children in France, compared to 75% of MECS. But it is essential as Taquet law provides a framework that does not allow siblings to be separated.

“Saving siblings helps save children’s lives,” said Jean-Luc Glaze, president of the Gironde department.

A “family life”

Local authorities have funded the construction of the site for 7 million euros. The department complements its operating budget at the rate of 176 euros per child. Following the call of the project, its management was entrusted to the Action Enforcement Foundation. This recognized public utility foundation has opened 14 similar villages in France, welcoming about 1,000 children across the country.

He has the support of public statistics. Mark Livermont, a former coach of the French rugby team and a 25-time French player, is the eldest of eight siblings and has been a sponsor of the Action Enforcement Foundation since 2004. He was present at the inauguration of EcoVillage, where he welcomed the perception of the project and thanked the work of academics.

Francis Vacherat said: “Most of the children who were welcomed were placed after a social investigation by a court decision. Either because they are neglected, or because they are victims of physical, emotional or even sexual violence. But their stories are different. They are educated in public schools, they have sports activities, we support them when they are preparing for studies. We prepare them to return to the family from time to time.

The goal of managing this reception structure is to get as close as possible to “family life”, thanks to a dwelling with smaller dimensions than other reception structures. On average, seven-year-olds live in a separate home with up to six children, each with their own room.

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In this house, they are supervised by four educators who stay with them throughout the year, alternating with one rotation every eight days. 47 employees are currently working on the site. It can be difficult to communicate with children who have been abused, as one educator testified:

“The hardest part is building trust with the kids. It takes a lot of time. A

Each of the kids has a separate room that they can personalize and create for themselves (NC / Rue89 Bordeaux)

Home life is particularly autonomous: educators take care of most household chores, meet the needs of children and have their own space (office, bedroom) inside the home. Activities, meals and outings can be organized with other homes, which serve as a small community.

The goal of EcoVillage is to be exemplary in matters related to sustainable development. A wooden frame, with certified HQE (high environmental quality), high power performance in homes, photovoltaic panels, rainwater recovery tanks … Village nesting boxes and insect hotels have also been set up.

To integrate

If the children are able to settle in the houses that came out of the ground in January, they will be housed in prefabs near the site from the beginning of the 2020 school year. Pierre Lecomte, president of the Action Enforcement Foundation, explains that this initial setting allows children to “integrate into local life, take their mark.” Thus upstream there was a need to carry out a “work to include children in the village, the municipality, the teachers’ team, to sensitize the residents”, as Jean-Luc Glees testified.

Inauguration of EcoVillage (NC / Rue89 Bordeaux)

And then? While ecovillage or other reception structures for foster children assist adolescents up to the age of 18, other systems are set up for young people to follow as adults. Thus, the contract for young adults allows the caregiver to continue to provide accommodation, employment, study, assistance until the age of 21 or even in certain circumstances.

The Action Enforcement Foundation continues to support post-placement:

“Young people are being helped to use common law provisions that may benefit them as they age,” Pierre Lecomme points out.

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