A School for Parents Helps Families Stay Strong
NPH Peru's School for Parents provides support and assistance to families who will soon reunite with their children.
June 13, 2019 - Peru
Local governments ask NPH to care for children for a variety of reasons. Many of these reasons are sad, often tragic, as there is an ever-present need to provide love and care to children who have experienced hardship or trauma in their past. There are other children, though, whose families can provide the warm love and care that every child needs, but cannot provide many of the material necessities required for healthy childhood growth: adequate food, clothing, or an education.
The NPH OneFamily program, present in many of our nine residential care homes, seeks to reunite children with their families in situations where a safe and loving home environment exisits. NPH then provides extra support—be it money for food, education, or other needs—to ensure that these families can healthfully be together.
NPH Peru strives to reunite children with their families when it is in the child’s best interest. But due to Peruvian law, children that the government asks NPH to care for must stay within our home until age 18. A long and intensive judicial process of appeals is required for children under age 18 to be reunited. So while NPH works through these processes, we are also working to ensure that the best possible home environment awaits children when the day to reunite comes.
In 2018, NPH Peru began a program called School for Parents, which helps the biological relatives of our children to develop positive parenting techniques and supports those who will eventually welcome children back into their home.
One goal of the School for Parents is to empower caregivers within their roles in their family and to help support them in acquiring good parenting habits. We educate families about the importance of taking an involved role in a child’s life. We also reinforce that while the child received (and will continue to receive) an encompassing range of support at NPH, the care and love of their biological family will always be important and necessary for them.
The first step in launching this program was hiring a social worker and psychologist to visit the families of our children and verify that a safe, supportive environment would be welcome children if they were to return. Through these visits, we are able to develop and solidify the relationships we already had with many family members of children in our home.
Says Rosario Chirinos, NPH Peru National Director, “We want to work with and support the families of our children, which also creates a positive relationship between NPH and the families. This will allow us to better work to ensure that we can best support everyone if a child were to return.”
In early 2019, investigations and interviews are still being conducted by our social workers and government childcare agencies to assess which children would have the appropriate healthy environment if they were to return. NPH is working hard to ensure that when designated children eventually reintegrate into their biological families, their parents and caregivers will be ready.
At the School for Parents workshops, parents hear more about their roles as direct caregivers to children, as well as how they can play an important supportive role in their child’s education. And all the while, NPH staff is able to grow closer with those who will one day take care of our children once again.
Topics covered in the School for Parents are developed using the Individual Parental Support guide, a best practices manual created by NPH International childcare experts. This focus is on fostering love and respect within the family. Topics are taught through a range of dynamic activities and educational lectures, with a strong emphasis placed on attendee participation.
While the geographic distance between NPH and where many of these families live can complicate achieving consistent attendance, our team has already begun to see positive growth in many who have been attending throughout the past year.
We offer School for Parents twice each month, with the hope that everyone will be able to attend at least one monthly session to ensure continual progress and growth. And for those who consistently attend class, the change is evident: “Before attendees were not overly expressive and they were slow to engage deeply in a topic. But after months of working together, we are seeing great progress in how thoroughly topics are being learned,” Rosario Chirinos observed.
And with this progress has come an overwhelming display of gratitude from the families in attendance. Chirinos continues, “The greatest impact we see is a closer relationship with the families. Creating this bond brings the two families of the children closer—their NPH family and their biological one—and ensures that we all are comfortable helping each other to support the children.”
Communication Officer Assistant