Kurdistan and Cambodia
Kurdistan, Iraq (Sulimaniya & Erbil Regions)
STEP works with children to educate them about what their rights are and how to ensure those rights are upheld. They also work with professionals to strengthen the services available for children.
STEP Iraq made contact with SFAC to see if we could do some promotional work in the Sulimaniya region. STEP had a drop in centre for working children and could see the need to get the children safely back into families.
Initially we worked on Kinship Care, used somewhat sparingly in Kurdistan but gradually they became more interested in the concept of Foster Care
SFAC were introduced to government officials and managers in residential care facilities to discuss why family based care is so important to children. Their desire to provide good quality services grew resulting in SFAC running workshops on child development, kinship care and foster care for care workers, senior managers and government officials in two cities, Sulimaniya and the capital, Erbil.
Following numerous workshops and Skype calls, in 2015 SFAC were privileged to host a group of Kurdish Ministry officials to visit the UK to see how local government supported families and children in the community when in crisis and how Foster Care and Kinship Care fits into that process.
When SFAC first began working with STEP, there appeared to be little awareness of the psychological damage that can result from children growing up in residential care facilities. As we educated people around these issues, Kurdish government officials began to have a greater understanding of the importance of children growing up in families.
Prior to the current conflict, SFAC worked with Social Affairs officials and the managers of the government's residential facilities to develop their own policies and procedures to promote family based care in the region, including Foster Care. Those policies were presented to Parliament in Baghdad but were held up in their final days due to the armed conflict with ISIS and the country having to respond to many thousands of displaced people and unaccompanied children.
SFAC are now considering a return to Kurdistan in early 2017 to continue supporting STEP develop their Foster Care programme with the support of UNICEF and to see how this can be used for displaced children living in the refugee camps.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
CIF started as a direct result of growing concern about the overuse of institutions to care for Cambodia’s vulnerable children. CIF places children at risk into families through both Foster and Kinship Care programmes and educates wider communities about the importance of children being in families.
SFAC was invited to Cambodia by the ‘Chab Dai” coalition following concern about the prolific rise of orphanage care for children rather than Family Based Care. The initial task was to raise awareness and discuss the issues.
Following that visit and subsequent workshop the following year on Foster Care CIF became registered as a local NGO by Cathleen Jones, a former orphanage director. CIF is probably Cambodia’s lead pioneering organisation placing children into Family Based care.
Over the following years SFAC made annual visits to help CIF spread awareness of family based care through workshops and seminars for other organisations including a meeting with Ministry officials. SFAC were able to assist CIF develop their foster care programme through specific training geared to the issues arising from placing children into foster care. Such issues included family assessments, safeguarding children, providing social work support and training foster carers and social workers.
CIF’s first 3 children placed in foster care all had significant physical needs, two children were blind and one had cerebral palsy. They were placed with families living in a rural community that had been assessed and were supported to provide good quality care to the children.
This programme was so successful that CIF quickly developed a kinship care programme taking important principles from SFAC’s training on foster care. When 5 different organisations including CIF decided to start an emergency foster care programme SFAC delivered a 4 day workshop focussing on the specific needs and skills required in delivering emergency foster care. That programme is now well established and very successful.
Such was CIF’s need to employ social workers to provide quality work, that in 2012 SFAC were to commit to cover 3 year’s salaries for 2 social workers.