The Strong Families Program is now part of several Back2Back sites globally and its intentions and goals are multi-faceted. On the surface, the most important component of the program is that, when it is the best option, children and teens are where they belong – with biological family. Another important layer of this program is the training and equipping the parents receive. In order for families to flourish together, parents must break cycles alongside their children to create healthy patterns and boundaries.
The Monterrey Strong Families Program is growing by the week, and staff are excited to see the positive transformations happening within the families. An additional step that’s being taken with each family is giving them the power and opportunity to create special memories and traditions within their homes.
“Something we noticed when the children transitioned from children’s homes to living with their families and were spending first Christmases and birthdays together, there was a lot of comparison between what they experienced previously,” explained Ale Castro, Back2Back staff. “We knew we couldn’t let that continue, as the funding the homes receive is different from what families receive. We wanted each child reunited with their family to have new experiences unrelated to the children’s homes.”
Instead of staff taking a gift or birthday cake to the children on their birthdays, they give parents/grandparents the chance to create a celebratory environment. A few days before every child’s birthday, families receive a birthday package that staff puts together with a happy birthday banner, balloons, confetti, a birthday candle and cake, and a small gift the whole family can enjoy together.
“Recently, one of the boys in the program was the only one who knew how to play chess,” explained Ale. “We gave him a chess board, so he could teach his family how to play! We try to make the gift giving something intentional for the kids to play with their families to promote connection.”
This is just one way staff are giving the families respect and power to create their own rhythms, and they are teaching each family to be intentional about play and fun. “It’s not something naturally learned,” shared Ale. “We want the families to know there is more to it than just working and preparing meals – being family means enjoying things with each other. We want them to understand fun is a right, not a luxury they only receive when they’re not working.”
The parents have caught on quickly and some have even made special requests for ways to celebrate their children. “One of the dads recently asked for help creating a board game night to celebrate his son’s birthday,” shared Ale. “We love seeing the parents take this idea and run with it, intentionally making plans and creating new memories with their children.”
Staff are also providing these packages for Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations and are always looking for new ways to assist parents in making new memories and traditions for their families. Enabling families to empower each other and create fun together is only possible thanks to advocacy, prayer, and faithful sponsorship. Together, with staff, global giving, and understanding their own strengths, parents are stepping up for their children and establishing unbreakable bonds and memories to last forever.