The Five Levels
To ensure that our many projects are successfully implemented, we work at five different levels. Any aid project is at risk of breaking the chain between training, daily care and local child policies. We believe in the importance of connecting all levels and performing follow-up activities until the local system in self-sustaining.
1. Child Development
The main focus of our work is to ensure the positive development of children without parental contact. With a good start in life, there is a greater chance for the child to exploit its full potential in both its private, social and professional life.
Here are some examples from caregivers about how the implementation of Fairstart’s training programmes has changed the children’s daily lives. The comments are from the EU evaluation report: Improvement of the existing sessions:
“Our children are either too naughty or too silent at school. However, after the application of the programme, they began to ask for their rights without any argument. They can comfortably express their feelings to their teachers. The prejudice that the children from the institutions are problematic has started to change (…) In fact, with this training we learned how to overcome the prejudice against the children at the institutions.”
“The changes in my children have mostly been noticed by their teachers. The teachers told me that my children were more participating in the classroom. They were only 4 years old when I applied the techniques from the session, but the effect seemed to last longer. One day, their teacher told me that she would have thought that the children at the institutions would have problems in communicating with others, but these students were like the other students who lived with their parents. I was very proud of that and told her that she were right, we were a family.”
So far, we have only seen great effects from our work. Per 2015, approximately 4500 caregivers – covering some 25.000 children – have participated in the training programmes. All of those who have participated in evaluation of the training are optimistic about their own accomplishments and improved relations with both children and colleagues.
Comments from caregivers printed in the 2013 EU evaluation report Improvement of Existing Sessions:
“This made us much more professional. We became a big family with our kids. The staff was like invisible before. Now, we have become the most and foremost part of the caregiving process. Our houses are like our own houses. They are cosy and warm (…) I have problems, sometimes many, sometime few, but I am not afraid of them anymore.”
“This training improved my relationships with my colleagues, the children and the director. Our children’s relationships were also improved.”
“In our culture, there are already techniques like swinging on the legs, hugging and kissing. But, in our institutions, we avoided these behaviours thinking that children would be dependent on us. After this session, I found out that I have made a big mistake. It turns out that all forms of contact affect the intelligence of infants and children. Now, I take every opportunity to embrace the children.”
3. Local care systems
Fairstart creates local care systems where governments, Danish embassies, local NGO’s, children’s homes and foster homes are able to collaborate in a joint development project. By implementing our training programmes, leaders and caregivers are given professional skills to act as parental figures and build long-term relationships with the children. Furthermore they learn how to cope with traumatised children as well as children with severe social disorders.
The entire child or foster care system benefits from our programmes; the development and well-being of the children is significantly enhanced, and the cooperation between caregivers and their relationship with management is heightened. In a long-term perspective, the local care systems gain professional care standards and the children’s opportunities for a successful life will improve.
To ensure successful implementation, we offer our assistance and experience. Local training is extremely flexible, as an educational course only requires a few technical tools to be carried out: Internet connection and staff meetings to go through the curriculum. We educate local certified instructors who are specialised in providing quality care training for caregivers and leaders. The instructors are of great importance in ensuring the implementation process, and transforming low-status caregivers into skilled and active professionals who design their own programme versions and practices.
4. The National Level
In order to give children without parental contact a brighter future, the change needs to happen at a national level. However, research (Rygaard, McCall, Groark 2014) documents that even wealthy countries often lack formal care management and education systems. This is a major cause of poor lifespan development for children. We want to empower and create local care systems for children at risk, where we provide governments, professionals and NGOs with a powerful and thoroughly tested instrument that will lead to better-functioning children and caregivers.
What we do when establishing Fairstart in your country:
- We operate in close cooperation with local and national partners.
- We engage in intense local programme design, networking and local language versions respecting cultural circumstances.
- We engage in collaboration where the local partner becomes an active participant in the implementation and design of the education and training to ensure a high degree of ownership.
- We do not leave until we have ensured that the system meets international standards and enables long-lasting local capacity of care for children without parental contact.
5. The Global Challenge
Families all over the world move into cities and try to cope with work and stress, while struggling to provide for their children. Because of these circumstances, more and more parents are forced to give up and send their children to children’s homes or place them in foster care.
Today, more than 100 million children grow up without parental care and protection in children’s homes or foster care or end up in the streets. These children rely entirely on caregivers in foster care and residential care, who are often over-worked, the government does not support them, and they have no access to quality care education or to knowledge about the importance of relations-based care. They lack knowledge about care for traumatised children and how to cope with disturbing behaviours.
As a result, many of these children never get an education or a job, and instead they end up in prostitution, drug abuse, early pregnancy, criminal behaviour and increased suicide risk. These circumstances represent a threat to the society of the next generation.
Since 2008, we have experienced that Fairstart’s training leads to improved organisation, improved caregiver skills, improved cooperation skills and, most importantly, improvements in the country’s ability to care for these children.