Children of the Andes

Support for vulnerable care leavers in Colombia

The project provides vital support to young people before and after they leave care. As one of the only organisations operating in this field, COTA partner FFF also provides advice to other organisations and aims to ensure that leaving care is on the government’s agenda.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from to


Registered Charity in England and Wales (1075037)




  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Human Rights/AdvocacyHuman Rights/Advocacy
  • Sports/RecreationSports/Recreation


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)



There are nearly 50,000 children who spend extended periods in government-run and government-supported care institutions in Colombia. Most are there as a result of economic difficulties, threats of recruitment into illegal armed groups, displacement, violence, abuse and abandonment. Many have no family and spend much of their lives in over-crowded institutions which have little or no capacity to provide any kind of individualised support. When state support comes to an end, young care leavers are thrust back into society lacking the skills and confidence they need for independent living. “I often wonder what would have become of me if it weren’t for FFF. Sometimes I think I wouldn’t have survived, because before I came here I was so disillusioned with life and full of anxiety about my future. I thought I’d never have the opportunity to be someone, to make something of my life. Or maybe I would have returned to my life on the streets, to get away from my family and everything that happened to me there, which wasn’t good. I spent most of my childhood on the streets, where I had lots of freedom, but it was a bad kind of freedom.” COTA partner FFF was established in 2003 in response to the total lack of services for care leavers in Colombia. Since then FFF has developed a comprehensive service of educational, vocational and emotional support for care leavers, before and after they leave care. FFF is now a clear leader in the relatively new field of leaving care provision in Colombia and is playing a key role in engaging with care homes and ICBF (Colombian Social Services). FFF’s first response to the lack of provision for care leavers in Colombia was to develop a comprehensive residential programme based in two single sex houses and aimed at the most vulnerable care leavers. This enabled FFF to respond to the total lack of information on care leavers in Colombia and get a good understanding of their needs. Learning from the residential programme continues to be key to FFF’s overall goal of ensuring that the voices of young people leaving care are heard and responded to at a local and national level. Young people stay on the programme for up to two years, during which time they are helped to progress with their education and vocational training and undertake work experience and secure employment. The day to day experience of living in the house provides an important catalyst for personal development, as well as the opportunity to hone skills, such as budgeting, shopping and cooking, which are essential for independent living. FFF also runs a leaving care resource centre with a library and internet access, offering CV writing, job search, IT and cookery workshops and information on training courses, job opportunities etc. The centre reached over 100 children and young people in 2008. The centre also runs a series of workshops for children in local care homes, designed to prepare them for independent life. Many local care homes have already requested that their children attend these workshops in 2009.