The Republic of Latvia is a Baltic country with a rapidly declining population, currently around 1.9 million people. Approximately 72% of the population is ethnically Latvian, while the remaining 28% is made up mostly of Russians, but also Belarusians and Ukrainians.
The capital city, Riga is home to around one third of Latvia's inhabitants. Latvia is one of the poorest countries within the European Union.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Latvia since 1997.
More than 26% of the population, almost 500,000 people, are vulnerable to poverty, while 20% of children, almost 70,000 under 18, are at risk.
However, 38% of Latvian households with children report that it is difficult to make ends meet, which rises to more than 50% for single-parent households.
Children living in poverty are more likely to experience a wide range of health problems, as well as face the impacts of financial and emotional strain on families.
Despite having small class sizes, Latvia has a high proportion of low-performing students and a high rate of truancy. At 15 years old, around 20% of students are underachieving in the areas of reading, maths, and science.
More than half of children report feeling overloaded and tired at school, and almost 10% are bullied.
A poor educational background can worsen prospects for future employment, limiting a child’s prospects.
Latvia lacks quality social services to prevent family breakdown. In a year, at least 6,500 children are reportedly deprived of parental care in Latvia, and 15% of children in care remain in institutions.
Without individual and child-focused care, children in institutional environments are more likely to suffer from poor physical and mental health, underdevelopment, and developmental delay. They also face emotional challenges and a lack of trust in themselves and others.