Orphans into foster families in Thailand

by Care for Children
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Orphans into foster families in Thailand
Training team & participants from recent workshop
Training team & participants from recent workshop

Our year started with a National Foster Care Meeting, bringing together 75 delegates from the child welfare homes (orphanages) across Thailand and senior government officials. We were privileged to hear stories from the heroes of our work – the foster families and children they care for. Tales of transitions and tears, adjustments and achievements, and life-long bonds being formed, inspired those working with the vulnerable children of Thailand to keep moving towards a goal of transitioning from institutional care to family-based care.

We were encouraged to be asked by the Thai government to expand our training of foster care to include nine additional child welfare homes. These homes are more specialized as they look after children who have been abused, trafficked, abandoned, neglected and those children who have behavioural issues and mental health problems. Initially it was thought that it would be too difficult to place these children in families, but over time there has been a greater understanding that all children deserve a chance to grow up in a safe, loving family environment and this group of children could greatly benefit from the consistent care that a foster family can give.

There is much to learn when moving children from within the confines of the orphanage walls and out into the community.

The participants who took part in training this year appreciated the opportunity to make site visits and hear the rich testimonies of foster parents who know first-hand how to make a child feel like a valuable member of a family. Throughout the training there was opportunity for participants to envisage the children in their care moving in with local families and learning ways they could support and assist to ensure a stable placement.

Another focus throughout the year was to help equip foster care workers with the skills and confidence to be able to train the foster parents in their programmes. Bringing foster families together is such a simple way of encouraging, inspiring and equipping them with the skills they need to parent the children in their care. Thai people live by the principle that life should be “saduak, sanook and sabii” or comfortable, convenient and fun, and training sessions are designed to include all three. I don’t think I have ever been to a training session with foster parents where it hasn’t included side-splitting laughter, dancing and parading, and a sense that they are one huge supportive family.

Once again, thank you for your support and staying connected to our work. We hope you will consider supporting this project again in 2019.

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So far this year, the Care for Children team in Thailand has had a busy season. We started out the year with a National Foster Meeting, bringing together senior government officials, orphanage directors, social workers, and family placement workers from 20 government children homes.

As our relationships with these groups develop, these meetings are growing increasingly fun and productive. There was a lot of lively discussion in these sessions as we looked for ways to strengthen the foster care programme and place more children in families. We had the chance to hear from a young woman who had grown up in foster care, followed by the stories from the wonderful couple who had been her foster parents. The young woman who shared her story is now grown-up and has her own family, but she still returns to visit her foster mother and father on a regular basis and their current foster children call her 'big sister'. Hearing this woman speak about the importance of her foster family and seeing the person she has become reminded our team of the importance of this work for individual lives.

The training team has been busy visiting and training staff from nine new project sites, where we will be able to serve children in exactly the way their specific communities need. We were encouraged that the government requested Care for Children to expand the foster care training program to include these nine additional children’s homes. We will only be able to transform the way children grow up if we do it together, and greater interest from the government indicates a growing awareness of the need to open up opportunities for all children in state-run institutions to be cared for in a family-based setting.

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

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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.

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Floating community
Floating community

It started with a field trip.

Mr. Thong Nam - a social worker at the Mahamek Home for Boys - wanted children from the home to learn about the craft traditions in their community, so he took the boys on a day trip to a floating city called Baan Nam Phuek.

Baan Nam Phuek is one of Bangkok’s famous floating markets, where entire communities live and work on the water. This city sub-district is located right outside Bangkok, between the city skyline on one horizon and a large jungle on the other.

The leader of Baan Nam Phuek noticed the large group of boys during their field trip. He could tell that they were different than the boys living in his community, and he asked what their story was. Thong Nam told the community leader about the orphanage the boys lived in, and the leader asked how he could help them.

Thong Nam began to speak about starting a foster care programme, and the leader immediately volunteered his community. In January, the partnership was finalized, and the Care for Children Southeast Asia manager, Thomas Abbott, had the great privilege of participating in this launch.

One of the most exciting things about this partnership is how indirectly Care for Children staff were involved. Our staff was invited to participate ceremonially, but these boys are going to foster homes because of an independent interaction between local Thai leaders.

We are thrilled to witness locals having the confidence and initiative to launch foster care programmes in their community as a result of our training, without any direct influence from us.

Your support has equipped the Thai people to begin programmes and partnerships of their own. You have created independence and sustainability for the entire community, and this year twelve boys will find a new life in the floating city, complete with foster parents who care for them.

Thank you for all your support.

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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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