The Instituto de Apoio à Criança (The Child Support Institute) was founded in 1983 with the fundamental objective of the integral development of Child and the Defense of their Rights, seeking at every moment to be the Voice that calls attention, pressures, acts and carries out actions that help more Children live with joy the time of being Children.
A group of people from different professional areas – doctors, magistrates, teachers, psychologists, social service technicians, educators – gave life to a new Project of hope for a better world for our Children.
It should be noted that the IAC was created in 1983 and only in 1989 was the Convention on the Rights of the Child approved by the United Nations.
In Portugal, as in most other countries, there is now a greater concern for the child, seen as a subject of rights. Rights that cover not only civil rights, but also economic, cultural and social rights and even new rights such as the right to a healthy environment, where the child can grow and develop in a balanced way.
In this path taken in defense of better conditions, more well-being and more dignity for children, the Instituto de Apoio à Criança also has its place.
Primarily with information and awareness programmes, but also with a very strong commitment to direct intervention projects, in areas not previously covered by the State or by other entities. In this perspective, the problem of children at risk, abandoned or abused or sexually abused has been our main priority since the beginning.
Due to our contribution, public and multidisciplinary talks were made for the first time about very serious problems that affect our children, such as abused children and victims of sexual abuse, as well as the dissemination of experiences of community intervention and the various forms of welcoming preschool children. Noteworthy is the dynamism of the projects developed by Street Work “Em Família para Crescer”, the only innovative project approved for Portugal in 1989 under the European Community’s Programme for the Fight against Poverty; SOS – Criança (116,111) that did not exist in Portugal and through which since 1988 many Children have been saved, the SOS – Criança Desaparecida (Missing Child (116 000)). Since 2001, the IAC has been part of the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children.
The Atividade Lúdica (Play Activity) with more than 700 recreational spaces created by the IAC and the Humanização dos Serviços de Atendimento à Criança em Pediatria (Humanization of Child Care Services in Pediatrics), have also had the considerable dynamism throughout the country, through which, for example, we have sought to help create an environment of more comfort and human warmth for our Children and Youth and their Families. In this regard, the Chart of the Hospitalized Child, which is in all Pediatric Hospitals and Health Centers, should be highlighted.
The IAC also has the Center for Studies, Documentation and Information on Children, which, using the most up-to-date information technology, supports technicians from different institutions, students from different levels of education, especially from University education, the media and the community in general.
The Legal Service stands out for its legal assistance and referral of specific cases and the dissemination of legislation relating to children, such as the publication of the 3rd edition of the Guide to the Rights of the Child – a compilation of the entire existing legislation on Children. In the area of External Relations, the IAC promotes and develops contacts with national and international entities concerned with policies for the protection of children and youth.
In Coimbra, the IAC-Forum Construir Juntos (below the IAC-FCJ) promotes and coordinates, at national level, the Rede Construir Juntos. It is an informal network whose purpose is to enhance the synergies of actions in the fight against social exclusion. It currently brings together about 100 institutions with responsibility in the area of childhood and youth.
The IAC – FCJ also implements actions in the area of School Mediation, stimulating and providing technical support to the Gabinetes de Apoio ao Aluno e à Família (Student and Family Support Offices), north of Leiria, as well as in the training area, promoting Training/In-forming and Awareness Actions.
In 1993, the IAC created the Núcleo dos Açores as an entity at the service of children, based on statutorily defined principles and objectives, adapting activities to regional problems. Currently, the Instituto de Apoio à Criança – Azores has autonomy in terms of the activity plan and in terms of finance.
The IAC – Açores seeks to raise awareness among public and private entities in a concerted action in favour of Children. For this purpose it develops a set of actions that cover, among others, recreational activities, street work with children in risk situation and position of and marginality as well as telephone answering service.
The Defense and Promotion of the Rights of the Child is always our main objective and priority. Attentive to the new realities of our time, the IAC has already presented a document on the Superior Interest of the Child in the Assembly of the Republic, to provoke a serious reflection on the situation when different interests are in conflict, such as the case of biological and affective parents or divorce or separation of parents. Hand in hand with other institutions, sharing and sharing knowledge, we thus give a voice to people who work in the field, we foster informal networks and innovative projects, in a deep sense of responsibility and civic awareness.
With the goal of contributing to the construction of a less painful future for our children, IAC, today, continues on the path, and wants to do more and better, wants to go further and seek to encourage, support and disseminate the work of all those who are concerned with the search for new answers to the problems of childhood in Portugal.
The Bar Association awarded the IAC the Ângelo d’Almeida Ribeiro Human Rights Prize, in 2005 as public recognition of the action developed by Institute which since its foundation has developed its activity in the promotion of the Rights of the Child, designing innovative projects in terms of principles and methodology, in the fight against violence, poverty and discrimination. Today the Institute is a reference in Portuguese society and is recognized internationally. Also at national level, the IAC received the 2014 Human Rights Prize, awarded by the Assembly of the Republic, the Medal of Distinguished Services awarded by the Ministry of Health and the Medal of Honour of Social Security in 2015. Recently, the work undertaken by the IAC to promote the Portuguese cultural and citizenship values was recognized by the Portuguese Society of Authors with the attribution of the Pro-Author Award, in May 2016.
With technical knowledge and love, we will continue to implement the utopia of serving the CHILD.
Manuela Ramalho Eanes
Honorary President of the Instituto de Apoio à Criança
- IAC Foundation: Main objective: to contribute to the integral development of Child, in the defense and promotion of their rights, seeking at every moment to be the voice that calls attention, pressures, acts and carries out actions that help more children to live with joy the time to be a Child. The IAC‘s main priority has always been children at risk, abandoned, abused, missing and sexually exploited.
- The Toy Libraries Activity sector was created – characterization of playrooms and recreational spaces.
- Seminar “Child in Portugal: What Rights?” held at the Gulbenkian Foundation in collaboration with the Center for Judicial Studies and the Society of Social Pediatrics. It was the first time in Portugal that, in a multidisciplinary and public way, the taboo on violence against children was broken, given that not even the media was aware of this issue.
- The Regional Nucleus of Coimbra of the IAC was created on November 8, 1985.
- Meeting “The Drugs in Portugal Today– What Answers?” in collaboration with the Association Prevention of Substances Consumptions and Center for the Study and Prophylaxis of Drugs.
- The launch of the quarterly publication “Boletim do IAC” took place in January 1988. The aim is to support and disseminate the work of all those concerned with the search for new answers to the problems of children in Portugal. It illustrates the intervention of the IAC at different levels: health, social, education, etc.
- Creation of the telephone line to give voice to the Child – O SOS-Criança on November 22nd. Questioned by some at the time, it is now considered a public utility service, having followed around 60,000 children since its creation.
- Meeting “Working with Nannies and Family Nurseries” in collaboration with the European Child Care Network, 28-30 November at FCG.
- The IACedits the work “Growing and Appearing”. On April 18, 1988, it was launched at the Cerebral Palsy Center in Lisbon. This book is a posthumous tribute to João dos Santos, founding partner No. 1 of the IAC.
- The IAC began work on the issue of street children, creating a pioneering project in the European Community and receiving praise for its methodology and initiative with street children. This project – Street work with children at risk or in situations of marginality was created under the 3rd European Programme for the Fight against Poverty (Poverty III).
- Creation of the Hospitals Humanization Working Group