Key Areas of Work: Adoption, Foster Families, Child Neglect and Abandonment, Family Reunification
Background: Ai.Bi. Amici dei Bambini Association is a non-governmental organization made up of a movement of adoptive and foster families. Since 1986 AiBi has worked everyday to support children hosted in institutions throughout the world and to fight against the neglect of children. The Association operates in Italy, with activities in 33 countries in Eastern Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.
What They Do: Ai.Bi. hosts events and conferences, conducts research and studies, and produces publications regarding child abandonment. Activities include:
- International Adoption - When abandoned children cannot be integrated into their family of origin and if National Adoption is not possible, Amici dei Bambini accompanies Italian families who intend to adopt a foreign minor from the beginning of the adoption practices up to the placement of the child and growth of the child in the family.
- Foster Care - Ai.Bi. organizes Training Courses and support for foster families
- International cooperation - To guarantee abandoned children the right to live in a family in their country of origin, Ai.Bi. activates cooperation projects with local institutions and NGOs, aimed at family reintegration, the promotion of national adoption and the social accompaniment of abandoned teenagers and young people.
- Training - The Training Courses conducted by Ai.Bi. Amici dei Bambini are aimed at couples or families who are going through the adoption or fostering experience. The meetings are held by expert psychologists who have collaborated with Ai.Bi for years, and who have gained experience in the field of adoption, foster care, and parenting.
AiBi intervenes where there is neglect of children: in children's homes, in centres of assistance, on the streets, or in families.
The objectives of AiBi are:
To prevent abandonment. Children living in needy and vulnerable families and facing challenges are usually prone to the risk of abandonment and neglect. To tackle their fundamental right of living a happy childhood, AiBi supports biological families with international development and cooperation projects.
To interrupt abandonment. When there are situations of neglect of children, AiBi works to ensure that a child is able to maintain a relationship with their family while in foster care.
To overcome abandonment. Hospitality into a family environment shall be the solution for each and every neglected minor. In some cases, it is possible to reunify the child with the biological family through international cooperation projects. Where this option is not possible, or the reintegration not feasible, AiBi works to secure national or international adoption for the minor, in order to benefit from a life in a family.
To accompany neglect (care leaver projects). Many adolescents, even if they were abandoned at a young age, have never been hosted by a family. AiBi, through international cooperation projects, supports their reintegration within society.
To promote the culture of reception. In order to promote a cultural change and a different approach toward abandonment and child neglect, AiBi has started a project on the culture of reception.
Number of employees: AiBi has 38 professionals working within the headquarters and other branches in Italy, and 50 workers abroad.
Where They Work: AiBi works in Italy through its Headquarters, as well as 25 regional branches and information points. AiBi is active in 33 countries, with operational offices in East Europe, North, Central and South America, Africa and Asia. AiBi works through direct action of its offices, associates and related local NGOs.
1. As an organization, how do you:
(a) engage in reflection, re-assessment and redesign?
AiBi keeps on interrogating, evaluating and adapting its objectives, actions and opportunities on the basis of the new social reality and on its experience of 35 years of work.
(b) share your best wisdom with the world?
AiBi participates in, and contributes to, many national and international stakeholders’ coordination groups, including the Working Group for the Convention of the Rights of Children and Adolescents (CRC Group), a network composed of 96 civil society entities which are engaged in promotion and protection of children and adolescents' rights. AiBi is also an advisory member of ECOSOC, Eurochild and other groups at international and national levels.
2. What area of your practice are you most proud of and why?
The most important and innovative actions of AiBi are:
- Support and train foster and adoptive families. They are a very important resource for institutionalized minors who are not in the position to be reunited with their biological families.
- Legal support to minors. AiBi conducts activities related to legal assistance for children and their juridical status within children's shelters. AiBi works to support children in obtaining legal documents (i.e. birth certificates, committal orders etc).
- Social and working integration of care leavers. Adults who have lived in shelters and children's institutions often have less fewer opportunities to connect with their family or relatives and may be too old to be adopted. These young people and adults need to be assisted in finding their place and their network in society, mitigating the trauma of leaving an institution.
3. What should other organizations or practitioners contact you about? (Do you support other organizations in any particular areas, have a key area of expertise you’re willing to share, or have some great resources to make available?)
Other organizations can contact us regarding any area of competence related to alternative care.