In this update, MJF CEO, Dr Justin Rogers, shares exciting and early milestones for 2021 from our core global projects in Madagascar, Thailand and Indonesia. He highlights the impact of these projects both in the lives of children and families as well as influencing policy and practice in their regions.
In my previous role as an academic, I would write articles with the hope of influencing policy and practice, and I would also speak at conferences and events hoping to inspire change and improvements for children in alternative care. However, it was always difficult to fully understand if the work was having much of an impact. The biggest thrill about working at MJF over the past year is seeing just what an impact we are starting to have on promoting deinstitutionalisation and the reform of care systems. Despite the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a really encouraging start to 2021 seeing the work of our core global projects in Madagascar, Thailand and Indonesia. We are lucky to be partnered with committed groups. Together, we really are influencing change, which is important because it means growing numbers of children will get to experience their right to a family life and not spending their childhoods in an orphanage an institutional care setting like a residential school.
In this update, I wanted to share some early milestones for 2021 across these projects that highlight the impact these projects have in their individual casework with children and families and how they are breaking ground and influencing policy and practice in their regions.
In Thailand the amazing staff at OneSky have been supporting a growing number of families on the Myanmar border, many of whom without OneSky’s support would have faced the harsh choice of placing their child in an orphanage for the sake of an education. OneSky now assesses and supports kinship carers so that children at risk of entering an orphanage can remain with kin and attend local schools in their community. They are also on the cusp of something exciting with the hope of receiving a license from the local government to implement foster care. They have received training on how to implement foster care in the Thai context from Care for Children and received funding from World Childhood to support this. We are pleased to supplement these organisations support with our funding for social workers salaries as well as facilitating monthly workshops/exchanges to explore practice issues as they start to deliver foster care. In these pictures, Piwat from OneSky meets with the local authority to discuss licensing for foster care.
In Indonesia, we are thrilled to report that our work with Harum Family Centre has also really started to reach some significant milestones in 2021. Mas Ruly and the team have already assessed traditional fostering placements for four children, which have been amongst the first in the region to be formally approved and licensed by the local authorities.
In this photo, the first carers in East Java have received licenses for their children’s placements from the local government department. The Harum team have made their first attempts at recruiting foster carers with community awareness-raising events including an appearance on the radio. In our teams’ last workshop with Harum, we heard how the first inquiries of people wanting to foster have come rolling in!
In Madagascar, this picture shows the National Director for FAMadagascar Lanto Robivello signing a memorandum of understanding with the government to develop the national foster care handbook.
MJF has provided funding for a local consultant to help with the drafting of the Malagasy procedures for fostering. We are also on the committee with UNICEF to offer technical support throughout the process. This is a significant moment in the development of foster care in the country and step towards a care system that is no longer dependent on orphanages that often serve to separate children from their communities and that are far removed from a family life they deserve.
I hope you agree this is some amazing progress in the first two months of 2021. As we emerge out of this covid pandemic, we hope to continue our work with these projects and push forward reform and improve the lives of vulnerable children and families in their communities.