Charity helps reunify families

Thanks to the efforts of Hedge
Funds Care, one local charity is helping families get back together.

The Children and Youth Services
Foundation, which is one of six Hedge Funds Care grantees, received $45,000 for
its Family Reunification Programme. 

The foundation operates the
Bonaventure Boys’ Home and Frances Bodden Girls’ Home, which serve youths 11 to
17 who are at risk and in need of care and protection.

The Family Reunification Programme
is designed to strengthen vulnerable families during the transition period when
a child returns home from the residential programme and to provide support to
the family after the child is discharged from care.

“We are extremely excited about
implementing this new programme as it will provide us with the opportunity to
formally assist with reintegration of the child back into their home
environment,” said Chief Executive Officer Angela Sealey.

“If we can improve the success rate
of reintegration, then the chances of the child or any of their siblings ending
up in protective custody will be greatly reduced.”

The grant has also helped the
foundation recruit family support worker Janet Ham, who is responsible for
helping the families build better family relations. Therapeutic visitations are
supervised by the family support worker, who works with the parents and
caregiver to develop guidelines and goals to assure basic safety, identify and
develop parents’ strengths, among other things. 

Ms Ham works with a social worker,
case manager and residential support workers, all of whom are responsible for
determining whether the child has reached a stage where he or she can be
considered for permanent reintegration.

“…I enjoy being allowed to go
into the homes of families to work alongside them, attempting to help their
children overcome problems, as well as assisting them with making changes both
personally and to the home environment,” said Ms Ham.

“My greatest joy is seeing parents
make positive steps in overcoming the challenges they face. Many of our youths
have parents who themselves, have had difficulties growing up, and a number of
them are being raised by their grandparents.”

Biggest challenge

Ms Ham said the biggest challenge
is getting families to press through the hard work of change and getting them
to attend group sessions. 

In addition to working with the
children in care, the foundation wants to partner with the families to prevent
other children in the family from potentially being taken into care.

“Without the reunification programme,
we have looked for a window of opportunity to send the child home,” said Ms
Sealey.

“… Returning children home
requires intensive, family-centred services to support a safe and stable
family,” she said. “The programme has also allowed for the families to have a
thorough understanding of CAYS’ expectations, which has increased the success
rate for reintegration.” 

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