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What is a Mother Centre?
20. 8. 2006 21:17

What is a Mother Centre?

A Mother Centre is a place for mothers mostly on maternity leave to meet. It enables mothers with little children to leave the condition of social isolation which is a result of the constantly demanding care required for little children.

It provides mothers with the opportunity to leave the childcare routine and find their place in society, in terms of their profession, creativity, and interests, and to develop their own projects.

Within the Mother Centres, mothers can learn, possibly get new qualifications, or acquire new abilities, and so define their own social value clearly. MCs also offer entertainment, relaxation and other activities which largely parallel the community’s needs.

MCs provide community, solidarity, and openness for all generations.

We welcome children from the youngest age (from age 0) who will find a natural community of kids their age and who can see their mothers in creative and active roles different from home. MCs provide an aesthetic, attractive and safe environment for the little ones, with unstructured or organized activities aimed at play, motion and creativity.

The Mother Centres are non-profit organizations mostly in the form of citizens’ associations. There are established on the basis of family self-assistance and mutual learning with similar organizations. Mothers take part in the centre’s administration and create common activities by which they contribute to the development of society of citizens and emphasize the position of mothers on maternity.

The Union of Mother Centres

Mother Centres are non-governmental non-profit organizations (mostly established as citizens associations in compliance with the law of gathering, No. 83/1990 Col.), founded by parents in order to provide services to families with little children within their community in a self-sufficient way, keeping in line with the state’s family policy according to the Concept of the State Family Policy. The Mother Centres originate from Germany as a sociological concept. From there, the model was spread into various countries of Europe and to the US. For example, in Germany the Mother Centres are financed from local governments due to their positive impact on maintaining the complex health of families. (The complex summary material proving this fact will soon be available in German; we will try to arrange a translation.)

Parents, mostly mothers on maternity leave, co-create a natural environment for the raising, education and all-round development of the children who spend their time there. The activities of the centres are carried out by the members on the principle of self-assistance, which helps decrease costs and strengthens members internally – women find out that they have abilities which are of value, they get used to having initiative, creativity and sharing these things with the community. The interest in public issues, as well as the healthy models of behaviour inspirational for the children who are present during the realization of activities of the mothers’ center, naturally arises. These principles minimize the social isolation of the parents, especially women on maternity leave. They prevent the feeling of “burning out” and contribute to the full enjoyment of this period in terms of “a healthy mother = a healthy child”. Especially with pre-school-age children, regular visits to the Mother Centre improve their abilities for social integration and integration into the educational system.

1. Increase of the quality of relationships within the family and the community:

By fulfilling their mission, Mother Centres lead to active solutions of personal and social problems. By getting involved in the Mother Centres’ activities, people get a different view of the relationships within the family as well as the community. These principles are especially important for the healthy functioning of families in an environment where a conservative approach to the role of a woman/mother prevails. Families and their particular members often realize their rights, duties and place for a healthier and more active family life in such an environment. The MC’s involvement is obvious also in the relationship with the surroundings – the local community. Through the services and assistance provided to those who particularly need it, strengthening of the human potential of an individual as well as an increase in the “income” within the society is achieved. The Mother Centres inspire citizens’ involvement—for example, they become a starting point for women with the ambition to enter regional politics or to actively join other publicly beneficial organizations.

a. assistance to socially disadvantaged families
• collections and second-hand clothing sales
• small financial loans

b. common activities unifying the family and the community
• cultural, social, and sports events on different occasions (Christmas parties, Santa Claus parties, fancy-dress parties, Children’s Day, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day celebrations)
• projects within the community – volunteer events for cleaning, improving, fixing or maintaining the surroundings and children’s playgrounds
• recreational stays for families outside of the Mother Centre’s property
• special activities to get the fathers more involved in the education of children and participating more in family life

c. communication with different “entities at the local level” – initiating inter-sector cooperation between the local government, the entrepreneurial and non-profit sectors, with the involvement of the public
• common projects with entrepreneurs, the state administration and the local government (eliminating domestic violence, increasing employment)
• the “Humanization of Maternity Wards” project in cooperation with health-care centres (to make hospital interiors more modern and more comfortable so that they reflect the needs of female patients)
• the “Open School” project in cooperation with pre-school facilities (for active participation of parents in the educational process)
• stimulation of altruistic behaviour – donations, philanthropy, mutual assistance

d. integration of marginalized social groups – e.g. the disabled, the Roma, lonely parents, the unemployed, the retired – their involvement in the activities of the Mother Centre and realization of special programs focusing on the integration of these groups of citizens

2. Increase in Employment

The MCs, in close cooperation with the particular local labour offices as well as the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family and the National Labour Office, mainly after the coordinating Union of the Mother Centres was founded, strive to get parents after the maternity leave included in the work process.

The MCs provide their members and course participants with the opportunity to test and directly apply some of their acquired skills.

The courses are mostly attended by mothers on (or right after) maternity leave who face some difficulties in their return to work or their reengagement in the working process. The participants in some of the courses go through various realization steps – from the idea, through the actual realization, up to the marketing. The skills achieved through communication with the client, skills related to the cooperation in a team, and possibly certain forms of personnel management are also important. Some Mother Centres provide contacts with potential employers and special advisory services. For many mothers, especially from regions with high unemployment rates, this form of gaining skills is one of a kind. Furthermore, the Mother Centres provide the materials, technical equipment and space necessary for training and acquiring the skills.

3. Basic services for mothers and children

a. skill improvement courses
• courses of foreign languages – mainly for children, using games
• workshops of crafts and pottery
• children’s plays, classes of music, dance, musical drama for children
• games for intellectual development
• motion and rhythmical games and exercises – separately also for mothers and children, e.g. yoga, callisthenics, aerobics
• courses of sewing, cooking, handicrafts
• massage courses

b. advisory services
• prenatal preparation for the baby delivery and parenthood for both partners
• advice breastfeeding and baby care
• providing special advice and relevant contacts, often free, especially in the areas of paediatrics, psychology, social law, and economy
• advisory and assistance to the victims of domestic violence
• lectures on an individual or rotating basis by specialists, mainly from the fields of psychology, pedagogy and law

c. other services:
• baby-sitting service (depending on the opening hours – often daily) the Mother Centres provide the possibility to leave children under supervision of skilled persons in order to enable the parents to arrange important business at places where access with the children is not easy (offices, court, hospitals, etc.)
• day-care summer camps
• hairdresser, cosmetics, manicure and pedicure services

The activities of the Mother Centres and their overall activities within the community have a remarkable prevention-like character. They help decrease the negative development tendencies in children and their parents, and there is an obvious positive impact on some pathological social tendencies. The important contribution of the MCs towards the realization of the family politics of the state is based on prevention—maintaining healthy relationships within the family and the local society—which brings savings to the state budget which would otherwise be used for cases of material and social need.

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