Statement on Independent Special Commission Report
SOS Children's Villages – June 7 2023

Statement on Independent Special Commission Report

Two years ago, SOS Children’s Villages was deeply saddened to learn of cases in which we had failed to keep children and adults we work with safe. We apologized to those affected by abuse, and we invited any others with knowledge or experience of wrongdoing to come forward. We have been listening to, and taking action on, their allegations, and we remain focused on supporting the victims/survivors.

We developed a four-year, 24-point Safeguarding Action Plan, one part of which was to establish an external Independent Special Commission to give us an impartial, expert view. The commission reviewed our policies, investigated past safeguarding cases, and has now provided us with their final report, which includes specific recommendations for how we must improve.

We are pleased that the commission recognized the progress we have made in the past two years. We have put in place a global ombudsperson system to represent the needs of children and young people; provided individualized support to victims/survivors; adopted stronger policies, such as a new Code of Conduct and Child and Youth Safeguarding Policy; and increased awareness of safeguarding risks in all areas where we work.

The commission also concluded that significant work remains to complete the necessary transformation, including implementing human resources standards; conducting leadership audits at all levels; strengthening governance structures; ensuring we meet our duty of care to child and youth care practitioners; and following up on the commission’s investigation reports and holding individuals, including leaders, accountable.

The commission has recognized that our strength—our grassroots presence in more than 130 countries and territories, which allows us to reach children with locally-relevant programs—is also a challenge: to implement standards consistently across all locations. We recognize that safeguarding is never finished; we cannot rest.

We thank the commission for their work, which will support our efforts to hold individuals accountable and will feed directly into the revision of our Safeguarding Action Plan. And most importantly, we thank all those who came forward to give evidence to the commission. We will do everything possible to do right by them, so that SOS Children’s Villages delivers on our mission to ensure children and young people grow up with the support and relationships they need to become their strongest selves.