We recognize in most developing nations where Back2Back serves, institutions are the only legal option to care for orphans and vulnerable children. Ideally, the children we serve would heal from trauma in a family setting. Developing alternative methods of care, such as faith-based foster care, are working on small scales. However, we must work to improve the existing institutions and children’s homes. We refer to this process as “de-institutionalizing the institution”. Reducing the number of children per dorm, training trauma competent caregivers, creating an environment of safety, building an interdisciplinary process to support each child, and creating a place where a child’s individual needs are identified are all examples of de-institutionalizing. This represents big changes and the heart of the partnership between the directors of the homes is not to force “our way”, but to add clarity regarding a standard of care while remembering to always get in the trenches with them to accomplish this goal.
We want the children at Douglas Children’s Home in Monterrey, Mexico to experience living in a family. If not with their biological family, we want them to experience a healthy family life with us. The 5-acre campus at Douglas allows us to have seven apartments to facilitate family-style living. We’re remodeling each apartment to have a kitchenette so the caretakers and children can eat together at home in their own living space. Currently, a new apartment is under construction with four bedrooms, a living room, multiple bathrooms and a kitchen. As we finish this fall, and as funds become available, we will build more living spaces like this one, continuing our goal of creating a family-style environment.