PROGRAMMES OF THE JUST CHILDREN FOUNDATION
This is a programme which we launched in 2005 in Chikomba district. We identify a child in need and a person in the community who has a heart for children and is willing to care for the child. JCF then assists in fostering the child together with the identified person. This is an exciting programme which will ensure that more and more children are placed into family care. This programme was approved by the Department of Social Services.
Unity of purpose between all stakeholders has been a major contributing factor to the success of our co–fostering programme. In this regard, as an organisation, we are not lone players of solitaire, but we take on board the whole community including parents, guardians and community leaders in meeting the basic needs of the needy children within a family and, in line with our vision, we ensure that this is done in a godly manner.
Through this programme, we seek to provide a family for the child because the family is the primary social safety net and as we work with that family, we aim to build or increase its capacity while strengthening it in such a way that will enable it to effectively raise up the child.
The family is central to our work because it is our deep –seated conviction that the family is where the children belong. As far as we are concerned, children are not supposed to be raised in the streets and in institutions. So the increasing number of children leaving in our residential care, and those in orphanages run by other organisations, show us that we still have a lot of ground to cover in fulfilling our mission as an organisation.
The moment we receive a child, whether they had come alone or have been referred to us by recognisable authorities, we receive them with prayer. We then ask them to fill in a questionnaire that will help us establish key information about them. The information normally includes basic personal details such as name, family name, age, gender, religion, level of education and whether or not the child has a birth certificate.
We also seek to establish the child’s history, including their place of origin, residential address and the reason why they had left home as well as their expectations and hopes as well as names of key places the child remembers about where they came from or where they grew up and information concerning their family. The interviewer then gives their comments before making a recommendation. The child is then taken into one of our residential care centres. If the child came alone, we start to regularise their stay through the Department of Social Welfare.
We conduct on –going counseling sessions with the child and those who would have been traumatised or physically abused are rehabilitated through psycho–social support. Using the information we would have secured from the child, we start to track down their family or relatives and once we locate them, we pay them a visit with the child. After we have heard from the family – whether or not they have the capacity to look after the child and provide for them – with a view to placing the child back into the family. If the family is, for one reason or another, unable to provide for the child, we come in to partner with them.
Reunification is done in the best interest of the child and welfare, so we make use of the child’s genogram (family tree) to make sure the re-unification is to the best interest of the child. All such unifications are also done in consultation with the department of social welfare. In order to create rapport between the child and the family – before the child is finally placed into the family – by allowing them to visit during school holidays before final reunification takes place.
It is also critical to inform the child about the impending reunification in time so that they come to terms with their new situation and they will have to work over the bonding relationship they would have created with home staff. The re –unifications that we have done over the years have shown us that cases differ with individuals. With some, there is no need for prior visits while for others there is need.
We work closely with the Department of Social Welfare when we do re–unifications because for committed children, there is need for a discharge order from the Department of Social Welfare. After reunification, there is need for follow up visits on all reunited children. After reunification and needs assessment there may be need to support and help the family in setting up livelihood projects. All this is done for the betterment of the child’s future in respect of bullet number three on our mission statement – ‘Off the streets onto a better future”.