Providing a safe, stable, supportive and family-like environment where children are encouraged to develop their potential is at the core of our child protection program. Our residential child protection centre provides protection and full care to around 120 abused, neglected, abandoned, orphaned or exploited children, from infants to young adults. The protection centre is organised into five houses by age and gender. The children are supported by caring house mothers, attend local Thai schools, and enjoy an environment conducive to becoming happy and well-rounded individuals with a range of life prospects.
Support to keep children and families together
Before a child is entered into our residential protection centre our professional social worker, counselor and child protection committee explore possible options for that child to stay with one or both parents, or with extended family. We believe children staying within family care, when we can be assured of their safety and welfare, to be the best possible outcome.
We support children and families to stay together through:
Outreach visits to families by social workers from COF
Vocational training and/or work placement for parents where possible
Food support (including rice from the COF farming programme) for struggling families
Free transport for children to schools when parents cannot afford it
Assistance to families with hospital visits
Mother and child programme at COF
Reasons children are accepted into the protection centre
However, there are situations where staying with parents or with extended family are not safe alternatives. When our child protection team, working with government agencies, conclude there are serious concerns for the child’s immediate and long-term personal safety, the child protection centre may be the only safe and viable option for them. UNICEF identifies violence, exploitation and abuse as threats from which children should be protected.
For the children we work with these circumstances include:
Physical or sexual abuse by parents or caregivers
Substance abuse or mental illness on the part of parents or caregivers
Parent/s in prison and no other caregivers are available
Children who become unwanted or rejected due to new marriages by single parents
Children who are orphaned or abandoned by parents
Children at high risk of being seriously exploited, sold or trafficked
Reintegration of children with families
While children are in our residential protection centre, reintegration with stable family or caregiver situations remains a central objective. At any one time 25 per cent of the children in our residential home programs are involved in a supervised reintegration process with their families. Whilst adhering to our belief in maintaining family unity, this also opens up capacity to support new children in need of our full-time care.
Reintegration is encouraged by:
Initial visits by parents (often after returning from long absences) to children at COF
Daytime then weekend visits (where safe) for children in care to parent/s or extended family in the community
Continuous monitoring and assessment by COF child protection team of family visits and reinegration process.
Mother and Child Protection Program
In some cases homeless and abused mothers request that their children be accepted into the protection centre. However, in keeping with protection centre guidelines and our goal of family unity, these mothers are encouraged to join our Mother & Child Protection Program. In serious cases, where mother or child are deemed at immediate risk, the mother and children will join our onsite protection centre. In other cases, our outreach team will work with the mothers in their communities. Whilst in the program, the mothers and children are guided in such areas as child care, health, education and work. Assistance in the form of rice, milk or house repair is often necessary.