Achieving significant positive change for individuals and small groups can often go hand in hand with major cultural shift in the way issues are viewed and managed.

The Abba project has worked in Sao Paolo, Brazil, since 1992 with a focus on street children, initially using children’s homes to provide care for them.

It was clear to the workers involved that the children yearned for and needed a family environment, and a project to place them in local families commenced, but they encountered resistance and problems associated with the operation of this model. Delton Hochstedler is technical coordinator of Abba and explains what happened when Abba met SFAC at a conference in a nearby city and shared some of these issues with Mick Pease. What followed was a training initiative that helped overcome some of the difficulties they were facing. Delton is clear that Abba’s partnership with SFAC – which has been running now for almost as long as SFAC has been in existence – has been a huge influence not just for them but on a wider scale too.

He describes how it was not just children and families who felt the benefit, but also psychologists and social workers working with them. It also grabbed the attention of judges and policy-makers seeking to put a better system in place.This has led to SFAC and Abba coordinating training for the judiciary in a number of Brazilian states, with Ranjit Uppal visiting with Mick to deliver this training.

Abba has continued to train and assess families, and last year the organisation was granted full government certification and funding. Delton believes that SFAC helped by showing them where they needed to make improvements and, crucially, how they could improve. He is clear that what they now have in place is a model for quality child care which is influencing the development of similar initiatives throughout Brazil.

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