Recent lockdowns in response to the pandemic were an unwelcome change for most of the world. As people adjusted to working from home and teaching school from kitchen tables, there were a few families in Monterrey who benefitted from the requirement of sheltering-in-place.
Many of the children who live at partnering children’s homes were already visiting with their biological families for a holiday when the national emergency mandated schools close and people stay at home. This was a door opening for what Back2Back staff started in January – connecting with children’s extended families to see where reintegration could take place for the beginnings of a Strong Families Program.
Back2Back’s Strong Families Program was designed to help families move from surviving to flourishing through classes and creative workshops addressing their spiritual, physical, educational, emotional, and social needs. Their care is provided today, so together they can participate in the hope of a flourishing tomorrow. By creating sustainability within the home, children remain where they truly belong – with their biological families.
For Sophia*, a 12-year old girl with learning disabilities, the development of the Strong Families Program meant her transition from children’s home to family home was smoother, and set up for her individual success.
“Sophia is one of three girls in the family,” explained Ale Castro, Back2Back staff. “Her youngest sister reintegrated last year, and this year she and her elder sister made the transition after the pandemic. Children who reintegrate generally transition to schools closer to their family home, but for Sophia’s success, we knew she needed to stay at the school specialized to help her, even if it meant a further drive, or more training, for the family.”
With the help of her teachers, psychologist, and Back2Back staff, Sophia remained at the school she’s attended for the last five years. The Strong Families Program has allowed Sophia to have Zoom access to classes in her family home, they’ve provided books for Sophia to learn from with her family, and they’re helping her mom invest deeper in her learning journey.
“Sophia’s teachers and the director of the school advocated for her to stay on the learning path she’s been on,” explained Ale. “It’s been a unique opportunity for Sophia’s family to see just how many safe adults are truly invested in her learning success.”
Sophia and her two sisters are just three of a growing number of children who have reintegrated with their biological families and are part of the Strong Families Program in Monterrey. They have the guidance of staff to walk alongside them and transition their parents or grandparents into a new routine.
The help Sophia and her family have received to maintain consistency in their education and day-to-day life is one example of how specific needs are addressed within each of the growing number of families in the growing program.
“The fresh successes with these four families has allowed for deeper conversations with partnering children’s homes about additional reintegration and Strong Family candidates,” explained Ale. The entire goal of the Strong Families Program is to ensure no child is in a children’s home if their biological family is able and willing to care for them themselves, if there is someone to walk alongside them.
Staff and families have felt God’s hand in this work for several months now; they’ve watched Him open doors and facilitate conversations which will hopefully lead to more family integrations, and successes like Sophia and her family.
Together, through prayer, sponsorship, and advocacy, children are reminded their individual needs are known and will be looked after, and biological families receive the needed tools to grow. This is the power of providing care for today and hope for every tomorrow.