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Aug 7, 2018

The importance of a foster family

Dan Dan in her new home
Dan Dan in her new home

Here is an account from one of the members of our China training team, detailing one of their first foster family visits.

“Recently our Training Team visited one of Care for Children's oldest and most established foster care projects in China. As it was my first visit, I was eagerly anticipating what I would find. We spent one day checking in with some of the project's foster families. 

“One of the families we visited had fostered two children, a girl and a boy. I really enjoyed talking to the teenage girl, Dan Dan. A girl of only 17, she was quite shy but gradually opened up to us as we asked her about what she was doing. Her hands were busy stitching and we found out that Dan Dan had a keen eye for cross-stitch and design. She clearly had a skill and her foster mum recognised this and how much joy it brought her.  

“Her foster mum was really proud of her. She explained she had encouraged Dan Dan's talent by investing in some cross-stitch design kits with various patterns. This had really fuelled her interest. She really enjoyed sitting with her foster mum and talking about her designs, and her foster mum painstakingly unpicked any wrong stitches or mistakes. Her patience and love for her foster daughter was so evident, and she proudly displayed Dan Dan's work around the room for everyone to see. 

“The foster family had become a place where Dan Dan could meaningfully contribute to her home, put her own special mark on it and be reminded every day that she belongs. 

“That's what I love about foster families: the attention to detail and the sensitivity of care that can be offered. That's why I love visiting the families Care for Children works with and seeing the small things that make a huge difference to a child's life. And that's why your support, no matter how large or small makes a real difference.”

Thank you for your support and staying connected with our work.

Jun 26, 2018

Children raised in institutes are always waiting for the sound of a bell...

A training workshop
A training workshop

Care for Children has been working with Vieng Ping Children’s Home in northern Thailand since 2016. So far, Vieng Ping Children’s Home has placed over 100 children into local foster families.

While our team was recently visiting Vieng Ping to deliver some training, we interviewed one of the Family Case Workers, who is also a foster parent, about their family placement programme…

I want to encourage all of you who are here today and tell you how valuable this foster care program is. It is such a wonderful opportunity for the vulnerable children of Thailand. Tell the workers and the caregivers in the orphanage that they don’t need to worry that they will lose their jobs. Their role will change because there will be less children in the orphanage and they will be helping the orphanage children have the opportunities that other children have. 

“Children who are fostered are loved and cared for by the same father and mother every day, but the children who live in institutions change their “mother” (caregiver) every day. Their caregivers have different temperaments and the children have to constantly adapt to these changes. The children themselves are not the problem but the situation they are living in makes it hard for them to grow up like children in families. So, if you want to help reduce the problems faced by those living in child welfare institutes, then I believe that foster care is one of the solutions.

“Children who are raised in families learn life skills – they can wash their own clothes, help make meals, do things for themselves. Children raised in institutes are always waiting for the sound of a bell, a bell to tell them it is time to eat, a bell to tell them it is time to go to bed, another bell to tell them it is time to get up. Children in institutions don’t get to choose what they want to eat, but children in families go to the market with their mothers and their mothers ask them what they want to eat and they are part of making decisions about the family meals. Think about what that means to a child. If we were that child we would want someone in our lives who is going to love us, understand us, care for us in that way and help prepare us for the future.

“Children living in institutions are cared for and certainly have their basic needs met. There are always meals to eat and clothes to wear and people donating things for them, but they can’t receive that essential individual attention. Children living in families receive love and warmth on a daily basis. Life in an institution can’t prepare them for life outside those walls and when it is time for them to leave, they struggle to make it on their own. When they are faced with problems, they don’t know how to deal with them. Children in families have had the support and advice of their foster parents and the family case workers and they learn resilience and how to problem solve.

“We need to make sure that we help equip the foster families for their role and so it is essential to train the parents. They need to know about child development, how to take care of a young child, and then later how to care for a teenager; they need to know how to keep the children in their care safe and they may need specific knowledge depending on the needs of the child they are looking after. Foster parents can also be a wonderful support to one another, so arrange times when parents can get together and talk and find ways to encourage foster parents in their role.”

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

May 30, 2018

"Don't worry, you can bring all the children to us, we'll look after them!"

Meeting with community leaders
Meeting with community leaders

One of our favourite project stories from the last few months was during a visit to our pilot project site in Thai Nguyen province (just under two hours’ drive from Hanoi).

We spent the morning meeting with provincial city government officials, most of whom we had met before, and discussed some technical details of the project, training strategies and other project plans. We also distributed a questionnaire to capture their understanding of their training needs (a critical part of the process to help tailor our training programme for the Vietnamese cultural and political context, as well as measure knowledge and attitude change over time).

After lunch we then headed out into a ‘commune’ of Thai Nguyen where we met with about 20 community leaders (all women). These upstanding citizens, earning just US$5 a month, play an important role in the health of their communities by championing the government’s social initiatives by scooting around neighbourhoods on their mopeds to make home visits, help administer social support, and meet regularly to feedback on local developments.

We enjoyed an extremely informal atmosphere as we shared about the project plans and listened to their thoughts and ideas, much of which was accompanied with anecdotes and jokes! As we walked out of the building where we met, one of the ladies in the group turned to Thomas and said enthusiastically and convincingly:

“Don’t worry, you can bring all the children to us, we’ll look after them!”

It was a touching moment, so we insisted on having a photograph taken with her (second from the left)!

Much of our work at the beginning of this project has been focussed on high-level government meetings, developing and approving work plans, and conducting research, which is all very necessary to establish the best possible foundations onto which the project can be built. But it was very encouraging and inspiring when, at the grassroots level, we were reassured by some of the people who will be on the frontline of the work that we had their full support. With all the strategic planning in the world, if the heart and compassion was missing at this level, the project would never get off the ground!

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

 
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