The children residing at the Rescue Center have all experienced some form of trauma; whether it is abuse at the hands of a family member, the death of a caregiver, abandonment, the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS, or a combination of these. Each child arrives at the Rescue Center in need of not only shelter and food, but support for their emotional development. It is in this light that St. Vincent’s looks to introduce an innovative program component by integrating age-appropriate psychosocial services into the existing programs. Integrating psychosocial support services will address children’s emotional, social, mental and spiritual needs, thereby increasing resiliency and coping mechanisms and contributing to decreased incidents of depression, grief, fear, and anxiety among this highly vulnerable population.
While psychosocial support is a vital element for children who have experienced trauma and grief, it is an often overlooked component of NGO programs. Therefore, St. Vincent’s is at the forefront of providing comprehensive care to orphan and vulnerable children through the introduction of psychosocial components. St. Vincent’s is supporting the growth of the whole child, and not just addressing their material needs.
St. Vincent’s has taken the first step by establishing a fellowship program with The Forgotten International. In this first year of implementation, the Social Work fellow is working at St. Vincent’s for three months to establish the foundation and framework for future psychosocial support services. The young lady is currently working with the children at the Rescue Center to introduce basic life skills, long term goals and planning, and teaching how to establish meaningful relationships with peers and adults. The fellow has also worked closely with staff to identify ways in which psychosocial support can be easily integrated into existing programs. In the near future, St. Vincent’s aims to hire a part-time counselor to provide in- depth, culturally appropriate psychosocial support through group and individual counseling. It is an exciting time as St. Vincent’s continues its’ holistic approach of caring for children and their families.
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