Every child deserves a good future. But not all children have the same starting conditions. At least 1.1 million children and young people in Germany grow up in difficult family or financial circumstances. With the intention of also giving such children a chance, the Kinder & Jugend ARCHE Karlsruhe e.V. opened its doors in 2012.

Consileon supports the work of the Karlsruhe ARCHE team. Katharina Große is responsible for public relations. In this interview she gives us an insight into ARCHE’s day-to-day work and the challenges ahead.

Katharina Große, what is your motivation for working at ARCHE?

In Germany, the chances of pursuing a good path in life are very dependent on the parents’ home. Whether a child looks positively at the world, looks forward to the future with anticipation or follows a career path that ensures a solid life and corresponds to his or her own preferences has a lot to do with the environment in which a child grows up. Some homes, for a variety of reasons, are less able to provide a helpful, stable upbringing for their children. For such children, it can be crucial if they experience encouragement, role models and a good environment through other caregivers, such as our ARCHE staff. I am very happy to help here.

Which offers can the ARCHE make to children and young people in need?

For many children, the ARCHE is like a kind of home in the afternoon. There is a joint lunch, support with their homework and a varied afternoon program. Beyond this framework program, we have four focal points that we incorporate into our daily work.

  1. Developing a positive self-image: We help kids learn about and appreciate their personalities and discover their talents.
  2. Being a child: With all their needs, they are allowed to just “be a kid” with us. They don’t have to take on unhealthy responsibilities, are allowed to play around, be loud or quiet if they want to.
  3. Practicing the ability to deal with conflict: We see conflict as a learning opportunity. Therefore, we reflect on conflict situations with the children and encourage them to communicate their needs and boundaries.
  4. Maintaining healthy emotionality: We support the children in developing an access to their feelings and help them to find a good way of dealing with them.

How many children and young people are currently taking advantage of the program in Karlsruhe?

At the moment, we have 25 children enrolled, who are coming four days a week on a mandatory basis.

What are the biggest challenges at the moment?

As a result of the Corona crisis, the distress and excessive demands on families have increased significantly. As a result, there have been several cases of children being taken into care in the past two years. This means that children had to be taken out of the family, sometimes even at their own request. Some children are finding it very difficult to cope with the school deficits that arose during the pandemic. If some parents already only gave or could give very little support with school issues before, then you can imagine how the learning situation of many children looks like nowadays.

What are the plans of ARCHE for the coming year?

First, we would like to expand our work with the “older kids”, the teens. As a rule, our program is designed for children up to the age of 14. For many of them, however, this is when the challenging phase begins. When they start to break away from the parental home, a familiar contact point is even more important. Many need support in order to graduate from school or to master the transition to an apprenticeship. 

Secondly, we would like to create a contact point for parents in the format of a parents’ café. If we have good contact and exchange with the parents and support them with their issues and questions, then this will also benefit the children.

Is there a special event at ARCHE Karlsruhe around Christmas?

Like every year, we organize a Christmas party. During the Advent season, the children prepare everything in groups, bake cookies, practice songs and craft decorations. The Christmas party is definitely always a highlight for everyone.

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