The Cebu island of the Philippines has a high number of vulnerable children, either neglected, abandoned, or worst, sexually abused by adult relatives. Lately, most of the children rescued by the government authorities became orphans, became involved in petty crimes, or have parents involved in selling illegal drugs.
“In foster families, the foster children can live normally and can understand the dynamics of a family who genuinely loves and cares for their children”.
Within only a span of three months in 2021, seven rescued children were successfully placed in our foster families under Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ Foster Care programme in the City of Cebu. This was the highest number of placements due to the strong coordination with the personnels from the Cebu Provincial Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) office and the Social Welfare Office of Talisay City.
Partner organisations and staff of Terre des Hommes Netherlands ensured the successful placement of these children for their safety and to carefully identify suitability of licensed foster families. These children have to be cared for temporarily until their parents are ready to resume their responsibilities or until a more permanent placement is possible. The provision of substitute family care is essential for the child’s growth and development while he/she is away from his/her own family.
Placing one child into a foster care family is a difficult and time consuming task. It requires coordination with local authorities, social workers, licensing of foster families, and consultation. The safe and efficient placement of foster children to the foster families was in accordance with the government protocols and strongly considers the best interest of the child. There is also proper consultation and orientation for the foster parents and the foster child before the actual placement. In the case of our foster children between the ages 6 and 13, their consent (implied and express) were obtained before the actual placement to their substitute families.
Soon after the issuance of licences to the foster parent applicants, the personnel from the Adoption Resource and Referral Section process the matching of available children and the foster parents depending on the age and gender preference of the latter. The government social workers will prioritise those children who need urgent care, often those who are rescued by the government personnels from exploitative and abusive environments.
The said placements were manifestations that the government is starting their advocacy to minimise centre-based placement and they started to shift to foster care placements as an alternative for emergency placement.
Community-based foster care is a practical and efficient solution compared to using centres. Through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the national government is to mainly focus on community-based foster care. Lawrence Villaluz, a focal person from DSWD added, “The number of placements is a manifestation that community-based foster care is a practical and efficient program for rescued children, either in the long term or in an emergency compared to centre-based placement. In foster families, the foster children can live normally and can understand the dynamics of a family who genuinely loves and cares for their children”.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ foster care programme had been operating in the City of Cebu since January 2019, with its supposed end in December 2021. Due to the recent typhoon that devastated many families in the Philippines, the programme was extended to support more children and families until the end of March 2022.