Off Road Kids Foundation

There should be no street kids or homeless youngsters in Germany. Since 1994, Off Road Kids has provided immediate help. The Off Road Kids Foundation runs an outstanding nationwide system based on street social work branches in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund and Hamburg. The foundation aims to offer every street kid long-term prospects, and Off Road Kids street social workers have been successful more than 4.400 times to date. On average, the foundation spends about 80 working hours per youngster to achieve this aim. For more than 20 years, the Vodafone Germany Foundation has supported Off Road Kids financially and with business expertise.

Street kids in Germany
There are up to 2,500 runaways in Germany every year. More than 300 children and youngsters from the age of 12 upwards ultimately end up living on the streets. The total number of young homeless older than 18 is much higher. They are running away from negligence, ill-treatment and abuse and live from begging, prostitution and petty theft. Some are couch-surfers living at their friends' homes. Street kids dream of a safe and secure place and don’t want to live on the streets forever. Quite often they are inconspicuous young people without apparent signs of distress. They come from all classes and walks of society and are not only found among bright-haired punks. They would like to go to school or to start vocational training. Street kids often have a sensitive nature. Many of them are from rural backgrounds and hope to find happiness and luck by disappearing into the anonymous life of a big city.

Nationwide street social work
The aim of nationwide street social work is to see that the runaways never become street kids at all. The Off Road Kids street social work attaches great importance to identifying the best possible solutions in terms of these youngsters' future prospects as quickly as possible. The distance to the home towns of these young people is not of primary importance because Off Road Kids operates all over Germany. Young people can therefore be accompanied to their families, to the youth welfare office responsible or to a therapy centre, over long distances if required. This is the fundamental difference between Off Road Kids and all the other local help organisations available. Off Road Kids runs street social work branches in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund (the Ruhr area) and Hamburg. This is because most young people who have been trying to survive on the streets for a while often turn up in one of the larger urban centres after a short time.

Online support for young people in need
Using an online contact form, young people in need can easily contact the Off Road Kids street social workers in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund or Hamburg to chat and find solutions to their personal problems. This support has been specially arranged to establish contact to so-called couch surfers, who lead a quasi-homeless life at their friends' houses and are not visible on the streets.

Contact hotline
A free-of-charge Off Road Kids emergency number is available to all young people supported, around the clock. Young people can maintain contact with the Off Road Kids street social workers even when they are no longer living on the streets. In this way, the Off Road Kids street social workers in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund and Hamburg can intervene immediately.

Hotline for parents
Off Road Kids also advises parents whose children are threatening to run away (or have already done so), who are in contact with the street scene, or who have turned to prostitution. For this reason, Off Road Kids has set up a hotline for parents. Highly experienced, qualified support workers are available to assist parents.

Systemic counselling and therapy
Parents and families experiencing serious personal problems are welcome to use the systemic counselling and therapy service from Family-Neustart at Off Road Kids. The systemic counselling service is also open to children and young people in extremely difficult situations.

Residential youth group
Young people who cannot find help from their families or their home town youth welfare service can be given accommodation and assistance by the residential youth group in Bad Duerrheim (in the Black Forest area of Germany), which offers intense care and support. The residential youth group enables them to start studying for their final school examinations or a vocational training programme of their choice.

Institut für Pädagogikmanagement (IfPM)
The key to integrating young, underprivileged people into the workforce and thereby into society is mentoring from qualified educational professionals. The standard of educational staff in Germany is often criticised, and Off Road Kids therefore wants to clearly improve qualifications in line with western standards by implementing its Institut für Pädagogikmanagement (educational management institute/IfPM) approach. Off Road Kids understands education as a management subject – therefore the knowledge of education and professional communications needs to be combined with management skills. The IfPM is tailored to meet these requirements. For the first time in Germany, there is a part-time undergraduate programme for educationalists without a university entrance qualification, but with some work experience. Students graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) after the 3-year programme. The IfPM is a co-operation project between the private Steinbeis University, Berlin, and the Off Road Kids Foundation.

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