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Aug 29, 2019

How foster care can transform a community

Khon Kaen, northern Thailand
Khon Kaen, northern Thailand

In this update, we'll introduce Jane Arnott, our Country Manager in Thailand, and share an incredible story of how our work is making long-term sustainable impact for communities across rural Thailand.

Jane has spent over 20 years in Thailand working alongside orphaned and abandoned children. As a foster parent herself, she has cared for 64 children in her own home. She's been part of the Care for Children team in Thailand since 2015, helping with the national roll-out of the project across the country. 

In Thailand, the impact of foster care as a positive alternative to institutional care has radically changed the way that vulnerable children are being cared for. Jane shares a story from a recent visit to an orphanage (known locally as a child welfare home) of a radical new approach to supporting foster families.

In April of 2018, we started delivering training to the Northeast Child Welfare Protection Institution in Khon Kaen. It's one of the nine child welfare homes across the country which the government asked us to train last year, and has rapidly developed an exciting foster care programme. There are now ten foster families who currently care for eleven different children of all ages.

The Director of the home, Prapai Khamvut, has always been a great advocate for foster care and she knows how much the children long to be part of a family. 

This child welfare home for older boys is supporting foster families in several rural communities, where agriculture is the mainstay of the community. Each family benefits from monthly visits from family placement workers, trained by Care for Children, ensuring every foster child receives the best possible care. The foster care system creates opportunity to provide holistic support to foster families as well as the fostered children, and Prapai and the home identified a unique way of doing this. 

There are over 5,000 children still living in government-run orphanages. It's a huge number, but the solution starts with small, innovative ideas to ensure each child can be raised in their own foster family. 

With this in mind, the child welfare home have been rearing cows and pigs and decided to donate them to the foster families. This provides an amazing way to say thank you to the families, as well as an excellent opportunity for the foster children to take on new responsibilities, raising and nurturing their own animals. It was also a unique way to provide financial support to the families, hoping to encourage more families to welcome children into their homes. 

This month six cows and several pigs were split between nine families. The families will rear the animals and will either sell any offspring or give them to new foster families. 

Jane, Care for Children's Country Manager in Thailand, said "I think this idea of encouraging and supporting the families with cows and pigs is a brilliant one! There are so many life lessons the boys can learn by helping their foster parents care for these animals – responsibility and financial planning being just two of them."

We're committed to giving every child a family because it's the best place for children to grow and explore the world around them. These opportunities wouldn't be possible without the transformation that has taken place in child welfare in Thailand. Life in an orphanage will always have limits, but a family provides the freedom for a child to thrive. 

Once again, thank you for your support and staying connected to our work.

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Aug 12, 2019

Training the first family placement workers in Vietnam

Training participants
Training participants

At the heart of our work is the need to help transform child welfare systems from orphanages to foster care. In many countries, children growing up in institutions is still the norm. We're committed to training orphanage staff to become family placement workers, combining their experience of the local context and needs with our rigorous, cutting edge expertise.

In Vietnam's pilot phase, the basic training consists of ten, two-day workshops. The first two regions to take the training, Hanoi and Thai Nguyen, are now a third of the way through the initial core training. Read on to find out what our training involves, and why it's key to transforming the lives of orphaned and abandoned children.

The third, two-day workshop focusses on the role that Family Placement Workers play in the ongoing support and care of children when placed in families. Each child needs unique, individualised care, which is best provided in the context of a loving family.

Trainees are encouraged to consider how a child's identity is constructed, and the role this might play in ensuring a successful foster care placement. In order to have a sustainable impact, placements must be beneficial for the children and families.

"If a child feels comfortable about themselves, their culture, family, identity... then a child can feel accepted by their foster family."

We're excited by how the Vietnamese trainees have grasped the training with enthusiasm, understanding the long term impact that it will have on their work. The aim of the pilot phase is for the two regions to become models of practice for the rest of the country, so the potential impact of these sessions is immeasurable.

"People here are very inquisitive" says Clayton Green, Project Manager in Vietnam. "They want to learn more; they want to know more. We have faith, we believe in them to carry this work of foster in Vietnam."

Remember, your support make this possible. This training is the first stage in seeing children placed safely into families, and supported well so that they can go on to thrive.

In Vietnam, it costs $70 for an attendee to train one workshop. Thanks to the support of people like you, we can help more people than ever before become Family Placement Workers and transform the future for orphaned and abandoned children in Vietnam.

Training in action
Training in action
Presentation by one of the participants
Presentation by one of the participants
Having fun while training
Having fun while training
Aug 12, 2019

The village with multiple generations of foster families

Two generations of foster parents
Two generations of foster parents

Every month, we're working hard to ensure more children are moved out of orphanages and into loving foster families. Our work isn't a quick fix; we're providing long-term solutions to a complex challenge, and helping governments in Asia create sustainable models.

There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, but the goal is always to provide the opportunity for children to thrive in the unique care of a family. On a recent trip to China, we returned to a village in Luquan, Yunnan Province, where in 2015 we filmed 'The Village'. You can watch that video here.

Remarkably, this one village has fostered hundreds of children, with multiple generations of families now welcoming children into their homes. It is wonderful to see this cultural transformation taking place, with vulnerable children given new hope by these amazing families.

While in Luquan, we attended the opening of the new Community Resource Centre, the culmination of years of work in partnership with the Chinese government and the IKEA Foundation. This brilliant facility will revolutionise the care that vulnerable children receive, providing physiotherapy, special needs education and many other services for the fostered children in the community.

The Community Resource Centre is the best example of our long term goal, enabling increased independence and long-term sustainability for the foster care system in China, meaning many more generations of children can grow up in loving foster families.

We're so grateful for your amazing support, and we know that these children's lives couldn't be transformed without you.

Opening of the Community Resource Centre
Opening of the Community Resource Centre
To generations of foster mothers
To generations of foster mothers
 
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