Every child is part of a safe and supportive family and community
Reintegration unit is now part of SOS Children’s Villages Programmes in Palestine. It consists of four field social workers and psychologists in West Bank, and takes care of 31 families including 65 children and Youth. And two field social workers in Gaza Strip, takes care of 26 families, 53 children and youth.
It is widely recognized that a safe family is the optimal environment for the growth and development of children and therefore every effort should be made to reintegrate separated children into their families and communities.
Reintegration units follow the SOS Care Promise core values.
It is clear that returning to the family when possible and consistent with the best interests of the child involves more than just ensuring physical reunification between the child and the family. Instead, this process should be gradual and supervised so that family reunification is sustainable, first the unit makes sure that an evaluation to the children’s status at SOS Family Care in being made every six months.
The required assessment in particular, ensure that the problems that led to the placement of the child are addressed and resolved in an appropriate manner. It is discussed with Admission Committee at SOS Family Care Programme and colleagues from the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development.
If reintegration is decided, careful preparation and full participation of a child’s family, relatives, future school, and community is necessary. When an alternative care provider is chosen and shows willingness and ability to take care of the child/children, Reintegration unit call for support through follow-up processes because reintegration may involve all previous parties and sometimes th involvement of community based organizations at the place the child is moving to live in.
Therefore, Reintegration unit work closely with Ministry of Social Development in order to support, contact and facilitate the services that an integrated family might need during the process of reintegration into original surroundings.
“We work on making good use of the Palestinian Authority resources in order to mitigate the costs on our unit and be able to reintegrate more families.” Mohammad Allaham, Field Social Worker
Family rehabilitation for reintegration starts when the admission committee along with SOS Children’s Villages reintegration unit colleagues and Palestinian Ministry of Social Development decides in a case study that a family has to be united and is eligible for unification.
“Families need official documents and procedures sometimes, and due to their expected problems they might need help in those procedures especially with the governmental parties” Jamal Sharakeh, Psychologist
Both parties start assessment of family surroundings and the availability of public services around the family place of residence. Families might need health, education, legal, or public services.
“One of our best examples for reintegration is this family of 5 children living now with their aunt after they lost the care of their parents” Inas Odeh, Field Social Worker
Aunt Nahida family now consists of 5 children, Noor 18 years old, the eldest of her siblings passed the Tawjihi exam and now gained a scholarship in support of SOS Children’s Villages and their corporate partners Palestinian Telecommunication Group. She studies Medicine and dreams of a better life for her family.
“I remember the day we left the Village, we started a new life and now I feel much more accomplished and proud of this scholarship.” Noor, 18 years old.
As Inas Odeh, the field social worker says, the preparation phase for reintegration includes social and psychosocial preparation. For example, the family of aunt Nahida who raised her five nephews now since three years. The process started when the aunt had been trained and given specific skill development in parenting as well as preparation for children to receive their aunt and accept her as the main caregiver for them.
The support that this family received especially that the caregiver is a single woman who had to leave her work and settle for being a caregiver of five children. She received support from the governor of Ramallah city Dr.Laila Ghannam who helped and supported the family.
The continuous psychosocial support and follow up with the family helps keeping track of the unified families. Colleagues in reintegration unit usually commits the family of reintegrated children with an agreement to ensure good and quality care for the children.
“Recently, Ministry of Social Development had recommended to follow the approach of reintegration as a positive impact alternative care solution, we also gave training about Gatekeeping to Child Protection Guides in the Ministry “ Yousef Ajouri Head of Reintegration Unit , SOS Children’s Villages Programme Bethlehem