What After Leaving SWO Welfare Centers?

What After Leaving SWO Welfare Centers?What After Leaving SWO Welfare Centers?

The main reason for the increasing number of addicts and homeless in the country is unemployment, says Habibollah Masoudi Farid, deputy for social affairs at the State Welfare Organization (SWO).

Many people migrate to Tehran from small towns and villages in search of jobs and “to improve their social status, but when they fail to realize their dreams, they are drawn towards drugs and other vices,” ISNA quoted him as saying.

Severe mental distress that comes with rejection by family members or friends is also one of the main causes of homelessness, Masoudi Farid said.

Responding to remarks by one of the members of the Tehran City Council that “some children are not retained in welfare centers till they turn 18 years, and that is the reason why they become homeless,” he said he visited centers for the homeless and addicts several times, but there was no evidence of such instances.

However, this cannot be totally denied, because “even some educated and skilled people are amidst the homeless in the city,” for whatever reasons.

It is possible that some people have become homeless after being discharged from welfare centers, but “we cannot say there is a significant difference in problems between children at welfare centers and those belonging to other social classes,” he said.

  Risk Factors

Lacking an emotionally strong family and being an only child are two important risk factors that contribute to falling into the trap of drugs and other abuses, the official noted.

A working group was formed recently to reform and improve the discharge process of children at welfare centers. “Leaving welfare centers after the age of 18 is not compulsory and this directive has been sent to all SWO centers across the country. We believe that in the process of being discharged, age is not the criteria, but economic, social and psychological aspects of an individual are decisive factors.”

Annually, 3,000 orphaned children leave welfare centers after turning 18, according to the SWO. There are around 22,000 children currently residing in the centers.

Additionally, 1000-1200 children who are orphans or whose family identity is unknown are adopted by eligible people every year; however the number of children adopted per day is almost equal to the number of children entrusted daily to the orphanages.

  Monetary Assistance

While each person receives 140 million rials ($3950) financial assistance at the time of leaving the welfare facility, “we want to increase support by also providing vocational training, as the amount is not enough for them to become independent.”

“We are also discussing with the Management and Planning Organization (MPO) the need to increase monetary assistance to 200 million rials ($5650),” Masoudi Farid said.

The first vocational training for children who are around 17 years old and living in welfare centers in Tehran will be held in  December to enhance their skills and help them find better jobs once they quit the welfare centers.