In the past the guidance of a child in the children’s home was focused on love, warmth, a roof over its head and a lot of structure. The focus of the children’s home was on the 3 B’s: Bed, Bath and Bread. In 1990 a start has been made with regard to the conceptual change of the children’s home, which would lead to a differentiation plan in 1997. mThe concept was and is to change from a care institute to a guidance institute. This is due to the fact that the problems have become more complex and that we are dealing (in most cases) with “multi- problem families”, which requires that all personnel, in particular the group leaders had to be upgraded in order to offer the adequate guidance to the children.
We have also noticed that there are more emergency cases during the weekend but due to the fact that the children’s home is closed during the weekends, it is impossible to assist the children in need.
A child’s place is in a family and that is one of the reasons that we believe that an institution is a necessary evil, and that the stay in an institution should be as short as possible. This requires a lot of cooperation between the department of social affairs and the guardianship board (Directie Sociale Zaken/ Directie Voogdijraad/ Fundacion Guia Mi).
After studying the type of problems that lead to admission of the children throughout the years, children’s home Imeldahof has changed the 3 B’s concept into the following:
- Crisis and observation group
- Long term group
- Intense guidance group
- Therapeutic day care group
Crisis and Observation Group
All children who are in the process of an admission or are admitted will be placed in the Crisis and Observation Group. They will remain a minimum of 6 months in this group as this will enable us to observe the child and to determine the plan of guidance. A concept plan of guidance will be outlined before admission and after 3 months of observation, the final plan of guidance will be made up. After 6 months it will be determined in which group the child will be placed for further guidance. In a small percentage of cases a child can be dismissed after this period, if the situation at home has improved. This group’s function will also be to stay open during the weekends, holidays and vacations for emergency cases. This last phase is not yet in use due to an unfortunate lack of funds to pay for the salaries of extra personnel.
Long Term Care Group
In the long term care group children can stay up to 2 to 2.5 years due to the problems that the parents are facing. The problems can be the following: bad housing, imprisonment of one of the parents, serious illness and/ or hospitalization of one of the parents. Children in this group have certain points of attention to work on, such as personal hygiene, school performance, independence and assertiveness.
Parents are stimulated to participate actively in the guidance and care of their children.
Intense Guidance Group
Children in the intense guidance group have experienced severe traumatic events in their lives such as the death of (a) parent(s), sexual, mental or physical abuse, severe neglect, have behavior problems, etc. They require an intense individual guidance. The group leaders visit the families and schools on a regulars basis. Therapeutic means are a must in this group, such as “regression therapy”, social abilities training as are regular visits to the child psychiatrist and/ or orthopedagoge.
Therapeutic Day Care Group
A new concept in residential care for children is the therapeutic day care group. The children in this group are almost ready to leave the institution but the parents still need assistance in certain areas, such as discipline, communication, healthy “ after school” activities. The children are picked up by Imeldahof after school and are brought in to spend the afternoon in the group. During the afternoon the children get guidance in their homework and they have a afternoon program that varies everyday. This is a way to monitor children and their parents when the situation at home is not 100% stable, but that having the child placed 24 hours a day, is not in the best interest of the child.