We believe that children belong in safe, loving and self-sustaining families- not orphanages. . . Little Footprints, Big Steps strives to protect vulnerable children in Haiti by reuniting families and empowering them with resources and opportunities to build a self-sufficient future. By reinforcing their family unit, we strive to foster the health, self-worth and social reintegration of children who have been mistreated. We respect and value Haitian autonomy by working with local staff, authorities and partners. . . . LFBS empowers vulnerable families that have been separated, or who are at risk of separation, by supporting local protection authorities in building a stronger child protect... read more We believe that children belong in safe, loving and self-sustaining families- not orphanages. . . Little Footprints, Big Steps strives to protect vulnerable children in Haiti by reuniting families and empowering them with resources and opportunities to build a self-sufficient future. By reinforcing their family unit, we strive to foster the health, self-worth and social reintegration of children who have been mistreated. We respect and value Haitian autonomy by working with local staff, authorities and partners. . . . LFBS empowers vulnerable families that have been separated, or who are at risk of separation, by supporting local protection authorities in building a stronger child protection network. LFBS works to keep families together by addressing the root causes of separation and poverty through programming in child well-being and development, family and community development, advocacy of child rights, and medical outreach. . . . . Over 80% of children in orphanages have living families. They are "poverty orphans", separated because their families can't afford to care for them. Over 750 orphanages exist in Haiti, most of which are "for-profit" businesses, exploiting children in order to receive foreign aid. Only 4.6% of those orphanages meet the minimum standards of care according to the Haitian government. Children raised in institutions are 6 times more likely to be a victim of violence and 500 times more likely to commit suicide (compared to children raised in families). Children should not be separated from their families due to poverty. Children living in corrupt orphanages, the streets, or the restavec (modern slavery) system are all easily exploited because they have been separated from their families. However, when children are separated from their families, there is a reason for it. To truly change these children's lives we must not only reunite them with their families, but also address the issue that caused separation in the first place. This is why following up with family mediation and strengthening, while facilitating preventative efforts in vulnerable communities, is so important. . . . The secret to our work is the passion and dedication of our staff. Our team of Haitian staff continually receive training to reinforce their capacity, yet their personal investment in our work is what makes the impossible possible. We work very closely with local Haitian authorities such as Haitian Social Services (IBESR), the Child Protection Brigade of the local police (BPM), and the Ministry of Women's Rights (MCFDF). Our main focus is on family reunification of children who have been separated from their families. This includes children living in corrupt orphanages, children living in the streets, restavecs (modern slaves), victims of sexual assault, lost and abandoned children. When referred by local authorities, we receive these children in our Transitional Safehouses while their families are being traced or a long term placement (such as a foster family) is being prepared. During their temporary stay in our Transitional Safehouses, children receive nutritious meals, medical care, counselling, literacy tutoring, life skills training, and a safe space. . . Once children have been reunited with their families, we continue to follow up with them. We provide access to education, vocational skills, small businesses, agricultural development, and medical care for vulnerable families in order to empower them to care for their children, and to ensure their children have the opportunity for a brighter future. . . Together with local authorities, we facilitate community training for the prevention of violence and exploitation. We work alongside community leaders to ensure those workshops have a long lasting impact. We raise awareness globally about the value and effectiveness of deinstitutionalization, and the importance of ensuring that international aid truly helps - not harms - children. . . We have lengthy, strong and respected relationships with the people, families, communities and partners we work with. Our team is deeply invested in our work. Our staff are Haitian, led by our Cofounder/Head of Haiti Operations who lives and works alongside them. We work closely alongside local authorities such as Haitian Social Services and the Child Protection Brigade of the local police and support their initiatives. Our programs have a vast geographical reach as we follow up with families wherever they've been reunited - which has brought us to over 25 different communities across Haiti. We continually strive to improve and better serve the Haitian community - which means we are continually learning from our beneficiaries, as they are the experts on their own needs. Our intervention for each child is personalized, based on their own situation, needs and dreams. Our focus is being a catalyst for sustained change.
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