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 Children  China Project #13517

Orphans into foster families in China

by Care for Children
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
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
Mr. Qiao Dengqiang
Mr. Qiao Dengqiang

Mr. Qiao became a social worker because he wanted to help people. He just didn’t think those people would be children. 

“I used to care for the elderly before joining the Kunming Children’s Social Welfare Institute, so I felt like I transitioned from a son to a father. I remember asking myself, How can I become a good father?” 

He turned out to be a great father. In fact, he excelled in his work so much that he was promoted to be the director of the institution. 

“I realised that when I served the children even a little bit, they appreciated it and would give much more in return."

We’ve known Qiao for over a decade now, and we are consistently encouraged by his work. 

“Our goal is always to provide all the children with a happy life and support the foster parents, so they can enjoy their work. This has been my purpose from the very beginning.”

He was quick to recognise the benefits of foster parents and has become an advocate for a community-centred approach to childcare. 

“One of our project sites is in Luquan (Yunnan Province), where a community of foster parents looks after the orphans together. It has become a culture of raising children in the community, and it has been awarded as a model of best practice in foster care nationwide.”

Qiao has seen the way the families have built even stronger bonds with their community through their shared commitment to providing homes for children.

“They support each other, learn from each other, and discuss openly what they need to improve together. Their practice and action of kindness also inspired other surrounding villages. More and more families are joining them to foster children!”

In addition, Qiao has seen the way foster care is able to address a child’s needs for love and security and help that child grow into a healthy adult.

“I think what they [foster families] do the best is they have helped the children grow up holistically, and the children in Luquan are more complete psychologically."

We have hope for the future of orphan care in China because of people like Qiao. His dedication to finding the best way to support orphans in China is what will move that system forward. 

“China’s success is not related to de-institutionalisation [removing orphanages] but remodelling their services to meet the needs of the children they serve."

Your support helps train and equip individuals, like Qiao, who are working to change the lives of children every day. Thank you for your support.

Staff of Chengdu Social Welfare Institution
Staff of Chengdu Social Welfare Institution

Care for Children is supporting Social Welfare Institutions (orphanages) across China to transition to community-based care.  This means expanding their services to support children and families in the surrounding communities. The first step is supporting children who have been placed in foster families, as well as those who remain in the institution. The next step is to open up their services to all children and their families in the community, particularly those who are vulnerable and at risk of being abandoned. 

Chengdu Social Welfare Institution in Sichuan Province has developed one of the best models of community-based care across China. With more and more children moved out of the institution and placed into local families, in 2011 the institution started repurposing its facilities accordingly. They have established a kindergarten within the institution with over 100 children. Not only does it provide much needed early childhood education but it also allows children within the institution to mix with children in the community.  

They have also redirected their funds and resources to build community resource centres within those communities where the majority of children have been placed. As well as a base for the family placement workers, from where they can manage their caseload of children, here children can access a variety of services such as rehabilitation, independent living classes, and special education.  

Before 2010, the institution was providing special education to roughly 20% of children with additional needs in the surrounding communities. By encouraging foster mothers to become special education teachers and forming mother-teacher teams, they are proud to report that all children with additional needs are now receiving special education.  

To support children, especially those with disabilities, into independence, the institution has also developed vocational skills training programme. They currently offer bakery training and plan to develop courses in soap making, pottery and farming. One of the former children at the institution – who went on to work for the bakery department of the Shanghai Shangri-la hotel – has even returned to help with the teaching. 

Parents also have access to training such as positive communication with children and how to care for children with disabilities. As well as improving the success of family placements, it is hoped that over time the community resource centres will result in less children being abandoned in the first place.     

Your support of Care for Children helped start all of this. Because of you, Chengdu Social Welfare Institution  was able to begin a foster care programme that both changed the lives of the children placed in foster homes and gave its staff the time and energy to create systemic change. Thank you for your generosity.

A foster parent about to speak at the conference
A foster parent about to speak at the conference

The following is another remarkable account of one of the foster parents who came to speak at our recent family placement conference in Shanghai, China.

Over the years she has fostered many children, including those with disabilities, who spent part of their childhood in an orphanage. One of whom went on to be adopted by an overseas family. She is extremely proud that he is now studying automotive mechanics in Germany.

“We have seen so much change in our children, and they have exceeded our expectations. We have received amazing support from the family placement workers helping us to care for our children in the best way.

“I have learnt so much by being a foster parent. It has inspired me to do more and I feel a great sense of achievement and joy. They receive warmth and love from their new family. I miss them very much.

“Now we have more children who are unable to go to school because of their disabilities. So we’ve developed a new education course for children who can’t attend school. We’ve witnessed amazing changes - children who couldn’t show any emotion can now express their love for you. We have opened a colourful new world of possibilities - we believe the children’s future is now full of hope because of this training program.

“I have so much love and responsibility for the children in my heart.”

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

Foster parents recounting her experiences
Foster parents recounting her experiences

In late October, Care for Children hosted a two day family placement conference in Shanghai, China. The aim of the conference was to share international best-practice in family placement for orphaned and abandoned children in Asia. We were lucky enough to have a number of foster parents speak about their experiences of fostering. Here is the remarkable account of one of them:

“Many of my friends don’t understand, they think I’m stupid. I disagree. My neighbours, who are also foster carers, we together provide a home and this kind of love has filled every corner of our village.

“Li Wei* was very ill - often it took half a day to take him to hospital. It was so difficult. My husband and I lost our initial excitement of fostering but the incredible support of the (orphanage) staff kept us going. They visited two or three times a week and took a lot of the pressure off us. Since then Li Wei has learnt to walk, read and eat all on his own.

“We go to the park and Li Wei dances when he hears music. He loves to dance. He’s part of our family now. One day when I was feeding him egg he shouted ‘Mum, Mum’. This was the first time he had called me his mum.

“Zhang Min also joined us to be a sister to Li Wei. They’ve been with us for three years and now our house is filled with love and laughter because of them. Our family is more happy because of them. My heart is filled with happiness when they hug and kiss me. It’s normal to love our own baby. But to love someone else’s baby takes courage as well.

“I’ve had bad moments, I’ve shed tears, but because of Li Wei and Zhang Min I want to give them the warmth of a home. My life is much richer than before because of my experience of foster care. We’ll keep doing this so that more and more children can have an opportunity to have a better life.”

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

 

* All names have been chnaged to protect anonymity.

 

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Care for Children

Location: Norwich, Norfolk - United Kingdom
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Twitter: @careforchildren
Project Leader:
James Paul
Norwich, Norfolk United Kingdom

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