Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand

by Care for Children
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand
Orphans into loving foster families in Thailand

We recently caught up with one of the social workers that Care for Children has trained in Southeast Thailand. She told us about a very special foster family that she visited. 

“Mrs Mon* is a retired teacher and is currently fostering two young brothers, Tong* who is 10, and Ti* who is 9. As their case worker I can see such a change in the boys since they have been with their foster family. They used to be children who couldn’t speak up for themselves, were scared of strangers and never dared to question anyone or let anyone know their needs. But the love and care the boys have received from Mrs Mon is evident, and they are now confident, speak well, and take responsibility with their schoolwork.

“Talking to Mrs Mon about her future and raising the children, she told me: ‘If the boys’ birth family are not able to take them back, I’m here for them and happy to be their long-term family. My goal is to give them every opportunity while they are part of my family.’

“When I visit her, she loves to pull out her phone and show me photos of the boys and the activities they have been doing. She also recounts the mischief they have been up to, but she tells it with a laugh and a smile. I'm drawn to this dear woman and her love for these boys.” 

It's true, love in action is attractive, and often a blessing to be around! We wish Mrs Mon all the very best as she gives up her home and her time to care for vulnerable children in her community.

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

* Names changed to protect anonymity.

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Signing ceremony
Signing ceremony

We are delighted to annouce that we have just signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Thai government, signalling the start of a very exciting stage of the project.

MoUs are key to the success of all our projects. They set out what it is expected of all key stakeholders and demonstrate a commitment from everybody involved to see orphans and vulnerable children growing up in families rather than in institutional care.

In line with a new government policy in Thailand, this MoU includes a commitment to see all children under 6 living in family-based care. In 2022, Care for Children will develop a national model of best-practice collaboration between Emergency Shelters for Children, Child Welfare Homes (commonly known as orphanages), community leaders and local network partners, to reduce the unnecessary placement of children into orphanages, and prioritise family-based care for children already in institutions, especially those under 6. 

We just heard about a great example of how an Emergency Shelter recently helped prevent the unnecessary placement of two siblings into an orphanage by keeping a family together.

Recently the Shelter, located in Eastern Thailand, was contacted by grandparents whose daughter had sadly passed away while delivering her second child. The grandfather is unable to work as he suffers from diabetes, which leaves the grandmother as the sole breadwinner for the family. On her current salary she couldn’t see how she was going to cover the household expenses and provide for her two grandchildren.  

The first thing the Shelter did was look into any benefits that the family might be entitled to. A child support subsidy of 600 baht a month might not sound like a lot, but every little bit contributes towards keeping the family together. Their next step was to assess the grandparents as to their suitability to be kinship carers. 

The 9-year-old grandson is now doing well, helping his grandparents with chores, helping with the care of his new baby brother and thriving in the care of his grandparents.  

We know that a nurturing family is the best place for children and the benefits these two siblings receive by being able to stay with their grandparents can’t be understated. The grandparents will now receive a foster care allowance each month and the Shelter will follow-up and monitor their progress.  

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

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One of Care for Children's training officers
One of Care for Children's training officers

As you may know, Care for Children has been delivering training to Thailand’s ‘Shelters for children and families’. These emergency shelters are often the first point of contact for children when they enter the care system and provide a vital service for children in moments when they're desperate for support

Having already trained six shelters in foster care, as part of an initial pilot, this project aimed to deliver training to the remaining 71 shelters, giving them the knowledge and skills required to set-up and run their own foster care programmes. This would mean that, rather than moving them into a more permanent orphanage, the shelter could refer the children for foster care directly.

Between February and October 2021, the Care for Children team delivered 30 workshops over 83 days. With restrictions reintroduced at the start of the year due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Thailand, this training took place via Zoom. 

In response to the pandemic, and specifically its impact on children, the government invited Care for Children to deliver additional training to the shelters. This training, which took place in August, aimed to build the capacity of the shelters in providing emergency support to children who had lost their primary caregivers due to the pandemic, whether it be kinship care or foster care.

Here are some quotes from the trainees:

  • “The case studies that were used in the training really helped me to understand the material and I now have a clear picture of what we should do.”

  • “I love that you break us into groups and we have to work on a case that you have created for us.  It is a great way to learn.”

  • “The training has helped me to understand the process of preparing children, preparing the foster family and the community. I have a much clearer picture now and I’m going to put it into practice.”

  • “If the practitioners understand all that we have been taught today it will really reduce the amount of time that children need to spend in an emergency shelter.”

  • “Today’s topic of understanding trauma will really help us to understand children more because every child that comes through has experienced trauma in one form or another. The training was really easy to understand and will be really useful.

  • "This has really helped me learn and understand the role of foster parents and the importance of the relationship between children and their birth parents too."

The shelters can now place children directly into foster care, rather than moving them into orphanages prior to being referred for foster care. The shelters are now able to recruit potential foster parents and will be part of a team that will assess applicants for their suitability to be foster parents. 

During 2021, and particularly the third COVID wave, thirteen shelters were able to assess families for their suitability to foster and 76 families are now fostering 83 children. This was extremely positive as it meant that children who had been impacted by COVID were able to be supported to remain with relatives rather than have to go to an orphanage. While the bulk of the 76 families were kin or people known to the children in need, the shelter staff had to follow the process and procedures taught to them during the training and outlined in the ‘Operations Manual for Foster Care’. It is the shelters who are responsible for the support and monitoring of the foster families.

This pandemic reminds us all that children are far better off in safe, secure and loving family environments. 

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

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Raising awareness of foster care
Raising awareness of foster care

Your support has ensured we can continue delivering specialised training and support to orphanages across Thailand. This means children can be moved out of orphanages and placed into local, loving foster families.

The pandemic continues to present challenges to our projects. However we have been encouraged to hear that the Thai government has been promoting emergency foster care placements for children who have been impacted via COVID, and our team has been asked to advise them on this. 

The Shelters for Children and Families, which are located right across the country, will be at the forefront of this provision. Care for Children is in the process of training all 77 shelters in foster care. Training started at the beginning of the year and will finish this December.

Instead of referring children who have lost parents due to the pandemic to orphanages, the shelters will place these children into local, loving foster families. For those children whose parents have COVID and are too unwell to care for them, the shelters will organise temporary care for them, through family members or foster families in the community.

We're also excited to see the Thai government launch its new promotional materials to raise awareness of foster care, including information on how to apply to become foster parents! This is key to reducing stigma towards taking care of a child with whom there is no blood relationships. We’re hoping the distribution of these materials will lead to a significant increase in the number of applying to become foster parents.

This pandemic reminds us all that children are far better off in safe, secure and loving family environments. 

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

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Care for Children’s country project teams have had to think on their toes over the last 18 months, rearranging their calendars, changing training programmes, and adapting to a more online approach to their work. There are internet hic-cups here and there but for the most part the training has gone ahead according to our original schedule.

As we continue to develop our digitalisation tools and strategy (which we started before COVID!), for our new vision for ‘a world of children in families’, we have also found it a useful insight into how online training could be managed. Here are a few reflections from the past 18 months:

Relationships are still our priority

Online training is making it possible to not only do the training, but also continue and even build relationships with the participants, even though we are not able to meet together in person. We can see that everyone is getting much more adept with their on-line training skills too!

Extra effort on both sides

One day the internet went down during a training session. Our training team had to request that the training be postponed that day, and were delighted when all the participants were willing to change their own schedules so we could fit the training in on another day.

Making it fun

Participants have expressed that they enjoy the training and our novel training atmosphere. Lots of fun tools, such as apps, that are used to make the training engaging and keep interest high. We have quizzes and competitions throughout the training and at the end of training week those who have earned prizes can expect to get a little surprise in the mail!

Keeping it real

Case studies are used so that the participants can see how the theory of running foster care is carried out in practice. For example, participants use these case studies to plan how they would run a foster care program. It is a great way to practice all the intricacies of doing recruitment, assessment, care planning, child and family preparation, follow-up and contact with birth families. We get lots of positive feedback from the participants and comments about how much they enjoy working with the case studies. They use the same case throughout each process, and it’s common to receive feedback from participants commenting that they almost feel like they personally know the child and family by the end of the training.

Staying creative

In one case in the Thai project, the training team were surprised and delighted to see how well the participants did at creating an on-line life story book. When they do this activity in person they can sit and cut out photos and draw, but since working online they have to use a different set of tools and skills – and the results were very impressive.

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

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Care for Children

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