Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families

by Children In Families Organization
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Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families
One of our adoptive families.
One of our adoptive families.

As CIF staff, we are incredibly happy to be back doing in-person visits. Family visits to check-in are so much better when we can sit face-to-face,look at their surroundings, greet neighbors and family as they pass by, andshare victories and struggles over iced coffee. Recently, ourprogram managers, who live in Phnom Penh, went to villages to meet with families and local social workers, as well as to continue to move forward adoption paperwork with provincial government leaders.  

Three families in two of our locations adopted their foster sons recently. I got to meet with each of them and hear their stories, from getting their sons as infants and falling in love with their precious babies to nurturing them as they grow and learn.  

Children in Families does not merely place children into homes, our staff walk alongside the families, helping, supporting, and teaching. CIF does regular training available to the community. During Covid restrictions these training courses were done individually from family to family, but now we are preparing to resume group gatherings at our local offices. Our training can include topics such as: hygiene to identifying sexual abuse to child’s rights to childhood development.  

There was a common theme among all of the families when asked about areas of growth in their own life. Every single family interviewed said they learned how to use life-giving words with their children. That their language mattered. They were taught to encourage and build up their children with words, as our staff continued to check and monitor this over the years.  

One father told me, “I am a teacher with some knowledge and education. We [my wife and I] got a lot of good advice and training from CIF, and we saw good outcomes as we implemented them. I think people need to respect their children and treat them like humans. Don’t bully. Find reason instead of belittling and abusing. It works so much. CIF taught me how to apply this. It was counter cultural to respect child’s rights, but we found we had a lot of positive fruit.”  

Another adoptive family shared how inconsistent they were with schedules and meting out punishments in their early years as parents. Following the patterns learned from their own childhood experiences, they sometimes used unhealthy means of discipline. After signing up to become foster parents through CIF, they were taught consistency is important and there are ways to set boundaries with children that are non-violent. They also learned about the power of words.  

They shared, “In the past, we just raised kids our own way. But when we meet with CIF, we were given some rules, education, and boundaries to help raise children. It was a better way. CIF had staff continually checking in on us and inviting us to learn and join meetings. CIF helped with books and some financial support to relieve a burden. We knew we did not have to carry it all on our own. We no longer felt like we were just surviving but like others were for us.  

Both the social worker and a community leader who works alongside women and children spoke of this family later and said, “They are so teachable. Everything we give them, they implement.”  

I was told that although the parents are illiterate, they are now leading family trainings in the community because CIF staff have watched them grow and treat their adopted son, as well as their own children, with incredible kindness and the parents really fight for their children’s well-being and future.  

The family said the biggest impact on them as parents was learning to speak life-giving words in their home.  

Finally, we are also working to extend our reach to even more provinces in Cambodia. Alongside partner organizations, we are in the process of setting up a new office location to meet the needs ofchildren in those areas. 

Training with a family on forms of abuse.
Training with a family on forms of abuse.
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While Cambodia reopened schools since November 2021 and much of Cambodia is fully vaccinated, it would be inaccurate to say that the country has returned to normal. The residual effects of factory closures, tourism dying off for two years, goods and services crossing borders shut down, and a serious lag in education means the nation will be recovering for several years to come. Those who make their living day-to-day were set back the most significantly as they had no margin for the lost income resulting from those closures.

In addition, NGOs lost funding and the ability to monitor vulnerable people and communities at the same level. One of the greatest gifts of being on the ground here in the Kingdom of Wonder, however, was watching the generosity of communities’ increase. When neighborhoods were locked down, neighbors stepped up to help. Businesses who barely survived themselves, spent their time cooking and delivering food packets to communities. Creativity of care spread.

And so, we want to highlight our lesser-known projects in this report, showing how connection to local leaders in our communities was vital this past year.

CIF has always been a proponent of Cambodians caring for Cambodian families. CIF’s Foster Care Project started in a small village near Vietnam. From the beginning, we worked with village chiefs, local government officials, and church pastors to monitor and evaluate care in families. We get their input for programs and child placements because we know they are knitted into their communities and have a vested interest in the people in their villages.

While our social workers are wonderful, they cannot be in all places at all times. Our Church Partnership Project is key in this and even more needed during Covid-19. Spread across the nation, we work closely with church leaders to recognize the vulnerable in their communities, know better how to serve them, and to grow in knowledge and compassion for what they are going through.

CIF trains these leaders in child protection, recognizing what a family at-risk of separation may look like. They learn how to refer these families who are struggling and may benefit from one of our programs. The project also strengthens these leaders in improving supports on the local level to care for the vulnerable.

When the government banned travel, making it difficult for our social workers to reach some cases in person, CIF still had trusted contacts on the ground. They updated us on situations and helped serve the communities we work alongside.

Even within Phnom Penh, a recent FOR-1 family interview led to a conversation about a local church helping grandparents keep their orphaned granddaughters out of institutional care. Due to the death of the mother and departure of the father, this family was at risk of separation. The grandparents loved their granddaughters. But, they were poor and unsure how to provide for the girls. Just as they were about to place the girls into an orphanage, a local church stepped in, informing them of CIF. Elated, the grandparents got the support they needed to keep the girls.

Finally, we wanted to celebrate with you a year that brought three domestic adoptions to completion with eighteen others still pending different steps in the legal process. Permanency is a focus of our programs. While CIF works hard to promote stability in all substitute family situations, domestic adoption goes further than the important bonds created in long-term foster families. Formal adoption makes a child a legally recognized member of a family, allowing them to be put into family books and inherit property. It really is amazing to know that twenty-one of our foster families this past year took the steps to adopt their children.

Because children belong in families.

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“I see so much change in my children’s lives and in mine through (the help of) CIF. My two children have become healthier now that they have visited the doctors and received treatment regularly. CIF supported the transportation, accommodation and food for us go to the hospital, something that I had not been able to afford.  We fell in debt due to medical expenses for both my children and for me. With better health, my children can focus more on education. They also help me with some housework and with my small business. Also, my health condition is better now that my burden has been released. We have started having a more hopeful life since we have known CIF especially the efforts of CIF staff to encourage us, guide us and support us.” 

These comments were made by the mother of one of our FOR-1 (Family of Origin as 1st Priority) families. Seventeen-year-old Sophy* and fourteen-year-old Sopha* (* names changed to protect confidentiality) live with their widowed mother and another older sister. District officials referred these two girls to CIF to assess their eligibility for family preservation services. A joint assessment between CIF and local and district officers revealed that the girls were very much at risk of family separation. Both of the girls have hyperthyroidism which had been diagnosed previously but had gone untreated for some time due to the family’s challenges. The medical center was far and they could not afford to continue to go for regular follow up.

CIF provided financial support to help meet the family’s immediate needs while also providing regular case management. The field worker visits them at home on a monthly basis, providing training on such topics as positive parenting, child rights and protection, body hygiene, sanitation and Covid-19 self-protection. Monitoring the quality of care and child protection that Sophy and Sopha receive, as well as their education, are also a part of each visit. CIF field workers have encouraged them to stay focused on their education, even during school closures due to Covid-19. Both girls have been studying via distance learning and are doing well, with Sophy studying in grade 11 and Sopha in grade 8. They know that a good education is important for their futures.

CIF’s disability support project, ABLE, has provided additional support with following up on the girls’ health, including providing coordination and support (transportation, accommodation and food) for the mother to take the two children to Kuntha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh every two months. ABLE staff also ensure that the girls are taking their prescribed medication regularly, Both Sophy and Sopha have improved health as a result. 

Early on, CIF field staff began to discuss with the family how they could improve their livelihood to achieve long term financial security. As a result, CIF shared the cost of purchasing a grinding machine to support the mother’s small business of making soy milk and desserts. She had identified that as a way that she could increase her profits. Because she no longer has to pay to have the soybeans ground for her, she has been able to nearly double her profits. It also saves her valuable time and effort, as she previously had to travel and wait in line to have the soybeans ground.

“CIF staff always guide me for better parenting so I can protect and support my children as well as monitor their health condition. I realize that I can raise them and support them better than before. I am happy with my increased income since we have the grinding machine supported by CIF. I am trying to save for my family especially to support my children to pursue their dream of being a teacher and a health staff. Thanks CIF!”

It is easy to see the positive effects of CIF’s intervention for this one family. Additionally, there is a ripple effect which extends out to their community. Not only does strengthening this family enable them to have more to contribute to their community for years into the future, CIF’s involvement of local government officials helps to develop their capacity in child protection and family strengthening efforts which can produce positive effects for other families in need. Multiply this by the 392 active cases that CIF is currently supporting and you can see that your support is paying off in big dividends! So, a big thank you to all of you who are helping CIF to be able to continue to do the work that we do. We couldn’t do it without you!

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Income generation through a small family shop
Income generation through a small family shop

Hello everyone, 

Welcome to the May Report for Children in Families' Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families project.

Covid-19 continues to be prominent in the world news. While some countries are seeing a return toward normal, others are seeing the virus ramp up. Such is the case here in Cambodia. To put it into perspective, up until February 20, 2021 Cambodia had a cumulative total of only 516 cases since the very beginning of the pandemic. Today, the cumulative count has reached 22,889. We recognize that there are other countries with much higher numbers - the alarming thing has been the rate at which the numbers have grown. The government is trying to balance tough restrictions to “flatten the curve" with people's need to make a living and access food and other necessities. 

Whereas in our last report we shared that we had been able to get back to a fairly normal way of operating utilizing good hygiene and protective equipment, we have had to return to flexible case management, providing virtual visits with face-to-face visits allowed only in low risk areas. Whether online or in person, we monitor the children’s safety and wellbeing, address family needs holistically, and educate families in topics such as healthy parenting and Covid-19 prevention. We currently have 436 active cases with 333 of those children living with their own immediate or extended family members and 103 living with capable foster families, including one in short term emergency care.

Despite current restrictions, some great things are happening. We were able to close six foster care cases because the children were successfully adopted by their foster families. We monitored the cases for six months following the adoptions and our final assessment showed each of these families to be continuing to provide a high quality of care and a stable, safe, and secure family setting. It’s so wonderful to see these children in their forever families. We look forward to seeing more adoptions, as there are several in process in the courts now, as well as other foster families who have expressed a desire to adopt their foster children.

As a result of CIF's support for Income Generation Activities for 16 of our most economically insecure families, all of the involved families report being optimistic about improving their living condition and providing support for their children. In addition to financial support, CIF field staff have guided them through frequent reflections and problem-solving to achieve sustainability.

Covid-19 is keeping us all on our toes. While it is challenging, it is also growing us in our ability to think flexibly and creatively and to enhance the resilience of our organization and our families.

We are so very grateful for your continued support of the work of CIF. You help to make all of this possible and we hope that you are encouraged to see the progress that continues to be made.  

All the best, 

The CIF Team

Another small shop for family income generation
Another small shop for family income generation
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Hello everyone, 

Happy New Year! Welcome to the January Report for Children in Families' Helping Children Grow Up In Loving Families' project.

Since the last update, Covid cases have risen and dropped here in Cambodia. Currently, we are in a good place with the number of cases. Schools, religious gatherings, and cinemas have reopened with safety precautions in place. This means that our work can be relatively normal again which is reassuring and refreshing for our staff and our families. 

In this update, we would like to share some exciting news from our HEAL team. The HEAL team recently conducted meetings and trainings to local leaders in 3 different districts on the benefits of family based care and the long term negative impact of children living in RCI or orphanages. The team will do more trainings to these same leaders to be advocates in their communities. In addition to these trainings, the team also conducted trainings on child rights to church leaders in 2 different provinces. Another exciting agreement happened with our HEAL team and key persons of 4 different districts. These leaders signed cooperation agreements to protect children from any abuses and from family separation. All good things as we begin 2021!

It is a busy time of year. With reflecting on 2020, we want to thank all of you for the support last year in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. We are looking forward to this next year and we are starting this year strong. The main question we are asking ourselves as we enter 2021 is: How can we continue to care for our children and families safely and effectively?

Thank you for your continued support of the work of CIF. We couldn’t do it without all of you. 

All the best, 

The CIF Team

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Organization Information

Children In Families Organization

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Children_in_Fam/
Project Leader:
Lynny Sor
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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