One component of the project we are doing in Ethiopia that has gotten a disproportionately small amount of air time on the blog here in recent months is the Children’s Center that we are working on. The Children’s Center will be a central hub for all of the individual homes, and a place where children will come to transition before they are placed in a forever family. Today I wanted to change all that and take a moment to describe the various roles that the Children’s Center will play in both the children’s lives and the project’s logistics. Although the individual homes will be where the kids grow up and where they live, the Children’s Center lies right at the heart of the work we are doing. Without this center none of what we plan to do with the homes will be possible.
And so here goes, my stab at describing the Children’s Center and the various roles this place will serve in the kid’s upbringing.
To be sure, the first few months will be difficult for each child who comes to live in our forever families, no matter how nice your new bed is, or how loving and kind your new mother might be, everything is still new and adjusting will take time. We are doing everything we can to make sure this time of transition is as carefully planned and is as smooth as possible. At the heart of that process is the Children’s Center, it will be the first place that each child comes to when they are brought into our program, and will be where they first discover what their new life is going to be like.
Although each case will be different depending on the child’s situation, and the space we have available in the forever family homes, we plan to keep each child in the transition home for around 1-2 months, enough time for the house mothers and social worker to determine the child’s individual needs and select a forever family home that is a good fit for them long term. We are keenly aware of the extra burden that is placed on a child developmentally when they are forced to move from one home to another and so during this initial time when the child comes into our care we have made it a priority to slow down and decide carefully who their new forever family will be.
Simply put, a good family fit for each child is paramount to their future development.
The Children’s Center will be a safe and welcoming place for the children to land when they first come to live with us, and will also provide the love and nurturing attention that they need to help make the transition to their new life in one of our Forever Families.
Home Coordinator Hub
Because of the way we have chosen to do our forever family homes and how they are spread out around the neighborhood and not all in one place, many of our staff will spend much of their day out and about checking on things at the houses and working to ensure that everything is running smoothly, the Children’s Center will serve as a home base for these home coordinators, nurses, and social workers, a place for them to come back when they need to work on their reports or meet with the other coordinators.
The Children’s Center will also serve as the logistics hub for the homes, supplies like food, baby formula and medicine will be kept here in bulk and then distributed to the individual homes as needed.
Mothers Support Community
From time to time we will get the Forever Family Mothers and Aunts together so that they are able to discuss with the others about their experiences and share together about how best to care for these children. We know that these women like any other mothers have very tough jobs and we want them to feel supported and to be a part of a community instead of off on their own trying to raise a family. The Children’s Center will be a place where these mothers and aunts come to meet and be a community.
Children’s Support Center
Just simply being accepted into a new family does not mean that the complicated past that many of these children has endured will go away, for many of them the process of understanding their grief and feelings of abandonment will be an ongoing process. The Children’s Center will be a place where the children meet together with our Child Development Specialists and other children and learn to move ahead and learn to trust the love of God in their lives.
And there you have it, the Children’s Center and the role that it will play in helping us create a stable and loving environment for the children who come into our program. We plan to service 15+ Forever Family Homes from each Children’s Center, each of the homes will be within walking distance from the Children’s Center that serves their needs.
I will be talking more in the near future about the other aspects of the project such as schooling, church life and the process of accepting children in to new families.