The Department of Social Work and Policy, Tirana University, is one of the partner institutions involved in the Erasmus + KA2 project, ‘Now What?: Preparing and Empowering Youth Leaving Care’. Other project partners include: West University of Timisoara (Romania) (principal applicant), Athens Lifelong Learning Institute (Greece), Lusofona University, Lisbon (Portugal), SOS Romania Village, SOS Albania Village, General Directorate for Social Assistance and Protection of Children (Romania), and Smile of Child (Greece).
The main goal of ‘NOW WHAT?’ is to help develop the potential of young people leaving care institutions. The project offers support to people aged 16 to 19, who are either currently in care or have been away from care institutions for some time. It focuses on increasing the capacity of these young people in areas such as housing, finances, legal issues, employment, and social inclusion. By the end of the project, it is expected that participants will have improved those skills needed to live an autonomous life.
Some of the activities developed in the first year by project partners include:
- A Needs Analysis of young people leaving care (report at the national level). A comparative report of data collected in all project countries (Albania, Greece, Romania, and Portugal) is also planned.
- A Life Skills Curriculum to help young people in care institutions learn how to build relationships and develop the skills that will strengthen their ability to function within their community.
- The Life Skills Handbook providing information on the practical assistance that young people will receive regarding housing, education, training and employment, finances, healthcare, and other life skills necessary for living an independent life.
- Life Skills Tools aimed at providing young people with a range of financial planning resources.
- A Guide to Trainers who will provide training on life skills.
- A mentoring component that builds meaningful relationships between young people from care institutions and the adults with whom they will create their individual ‘After Care’ plans. These plans address essential issues (housing, education, personal needs, etc.). A mentoring protocol is being worked out, and trainings for mentors to young people coming out of care institutions will be delivered in the coming months.