SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children grow up with the care, protection and relationships they need to become their strongest selves (symbolic picture: Judith Buethe)

The Portuguese Republic, which hosts the westernmost point of the continent, is predominantly located in southwestern Europe, but also includes autonomous territories of the Azores and Madeira. Portugal has over 10.2 million inhabitants, with almost 70% living in urban centers and over 30% residing in rural communities. Lisbon, the capital, and most populous city is home to more than 500,000 people with over 3 million people living in the wider metropolitan area.

SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Portugal since the early 1960s.

Children are at risk

Constituting 16% of the population, Portugal is home to over 1.7 million under 18s. The deinstitutionalisation of alternative care for children requires urgent attention. Around 6,000 under 18s are in alternative care, living away from their family of origin. Shockingly over 95% reside in residential care settings and only 2%, around 300 children, have been placed in formal family-based care.
1 in 4
Children live in poverty

Child Poverty

Almost 20% of the population are at risk of poverty, with around 5% living in a state of severe deprivation. Children are disproportionately affected, with 26% of under 18s living in poor households and 12% facing extreme poverty. The situation is worse for island communities where the risk of poverty is around 30%. Growing up in poverty, children live precariously on the margins of society and at risk of social isolation. They are also more vulnerable to deprivation, where their basic needs can no longer be met.

2 in 5
Of poor children live in inadequate housing

Inadequate Housing

Nationally, 1 in 10 people live in overcrowded homes, however, this leaps to 1 in 5, for people at risk of poverty. In addition, over 15% of people struggle to afford to adequately heat their homes, rising to over 30% for poor households. As a result, almost 40% of children in poor households are living in inadequate conditions. Not only do cold and crowded homes affect a child’s physical and mental health, but children may also not have an appropriate place to do homework.

1 in 5
Poor children struggle at school


More than 20% of children and young people do not achieve a minimum proficiency in reading or mathematics and almost 40% lack proficiency in both subjects, with students from poor backgrounds being most likely to struggle at school. The consequences of a poor educational background can be profound, from slower progress in learning, and restricted social and emotional development, to worse prospects for future employment as well as a greater likelihood of social exclusion and risk of poverty in adulthood.

Together we can make a difference for children in Portugal

Are supported in the community
Children, young people and families
Supported overall
(Symbolic picture: Gerhard Berger)