Part 1 of 3 of our series on how partnerships help make a difference.
It is only through relationship with others that we can bring about change. We are grateful to work with compassionate partners to enhance support for children and families in communities around the world.
In 2016, we started a partnership with Sarah’s Covenant Homes (SCH), an organization of family-style homes that care for children and youth with disabilities. SCH started in India 10 years ago with the idea that “children deserve families,” but were faced with a stark reality and a tough question: What do we do if the families don’t want them? What do we do if communities do not accept them? In India, children with a disability or terminal illness are often placed in orphanages, hidden from the rest of society, forgotten about, and left without support.
The stigma and shame associated with children who have disabilities was the biggest stumbling stone SCH faced in implementing their vision.
Through our partnership with SCH, we trained their team on alternative care for children and family strengthening. This helped them look at families in a different light. We helped them see the reason why families and communities struggle with accepting children with special needs. Maybe it wasn’t that they did not want their children, but that they were simply overwhelmed and felt unable to care for them.
So instead of removing children from families, we decided to remove this problem from families.
We trained SCH to look at a family’s five fundamental needs – living conditions, family and social relationships, education, physical and mental health, and household income. In addition to learning about family needs, we trained SCH staff in case management, preparing families to care for their children with disabilities.
In early 2018, we reviewed the cases of 80 children housed in SCH’s four small-group homes, evaluating their connectedness with their family, and helping them identify the children that could be reunited with their families.
Today, our partnership with SCH has seen two families and four children reunited —and this is just the beginning!
SCH has become one of the first organizations in India to reunify children with disabilities back with their biological families.
Our goal is to continue expanding SCH’s capacity for case management and community-based services so that more children will be able to find their forever homes and be raised in families.
We hope to educate and train more residential institutions to grasp the importance of family, commit to deinstitutionalization, and build partnerships that will keep families and children together.