WHAT WE DO
A project to restore trust and dignity
A project to restore trust and dignity
The Foundation’s Social Activity’s project is designed to provide comprehensive assistance to children and adolescents deprived of a family environment and with emotional and social shortcomings. The programme covers all areas of life development (health, education, social relations, attachment, skills, etc.) and aims to return children’s self-confidence and restore their dignity, as fundamental qualities for the development of the human condition.
The main project focus is the residential centres, which take in children up to 18 years of age referred to us by Social Services. In them, each child receives comprehensive, individualised care, tailored to his or her specific circumstances.
The Foundation has three residential apartments to care for wards of the state referred from the Family and Children’s Institute of the Madrid regional government. It also manages integration apartments for adult former wards who are continuing their higher vocational or university education. Ten former wards are currently benefitting from our scholarship programme for people over the age of 18 still studying.
More than 440 minors have passed through the residential centres over the 14 years the programme has been running and most have been positively integrated into society.
Caring for the most vulnerable
Children summarise the difficult and complex development of human existence - they are the most vulnerable group in society as they require ongoing care from birth to survive. This principle of necessity guides the Foundation in procuring the following care services for the children it takes in:
2. Psychiatric and psychological care.
3. A good diet.
4. Restorative affection.
6. Training adapted to the possibilities of each child.
7. Emotional attachment.
8. Professional plan for the future.
9. Work plan.
10. Integration as self-sufficient and productive members of society.
The centres: stable references
The residential centres where the children arrive via the Children’s Guardianship Commission of Madrid region, have a very solid institutional and labour structure and are as stable as can be. The purpose is to accompany the children on their evolutionary development and allow them to create strong ties and a sense of belonging to repair the feeling of chronic neglect that the absence of a biological family causes.
The centres are run on two different models. In the first one it is managed by a couple, with or without children, who live in the apartment and organize themselves as a family in which the children are integrated. The second is where the centre is run by educators working eight-hour shifts. In both cases the system is made as stable as possible to avoid a change of reference for the children.
The children hosted by the Foundation come from dysfunctional social and family backgrounds, leaving them with social, cultural, psychological and mental scars. Their needs are many and very large, especially in the case of people with mental disabilities. Behind a mentally handicapped person there is almost always a gaping lack of social resources and an environment worn down by having to deal with a difficult and shameful situation. The Foundation considers it necessary to raise awareness of the stigma that mental illness produces and the devastating effect it has on the immediate environment.
Under these circumstances, the life experience of children in care offers little chance of them being returned to the family, while adoption is but a remote possibility. For this reason, a residential centre can be the only reference in a child’s intellectual, physical and psychological evolution. In short, it is the core shaper of the social and emotional security required for human development and makes it easier for the children to recover from the existential wear and tear of living in adverse situations.
Comprehensive recovery plan
The first objective of the Foundation’s work programme is to stabilise children at optimal levels of health, education, hygiene and coexistence habits, cultural interest and social skills. To this end, family conflict is clarified, the child’s strengths and weaknesses are identified and a comprehensive recovery plan is designed, engaging all the individuals and groups involved: parents, extended family, educators, psychologists, teachers and social services.
The Foundation also works with the children’s families to help teach parenting skills, increase their self-esteem and improve their living conditions.
However, this phase of the action programme is complex, because people in a marginal situation often distrust social programmes, and engagement can only begin when there is a sufficient level of trust in the relationship.
A window of optimism for the future
One key point in the children’s recovery is the development of their talent, curiosity and thirst for knowledge. The Foundation aims to foster individual capabilities so that each child develops his or her full potential and finds their place in society. Emotional and cultural development opens a window of optimism for the future.
The Psychology Department of the Alicia Koplowitz Foundation, created in July 1997, addresses the developmental, cognitive, behavioural and emotional problems encountered in the children living in the centres. These difficulties relate to the circumstances of psychosocial adversity in which they were reared and to which they are still linked, as well as exposure to traumatic situations. On top of all this are the problems deriving from being separated from their families.
The aim of the Foundation is to make the centres a stable but temporary instrument at the service of the child, so that their time there can serve as a transition towards a definitive endpoint such as a return to the family home, integration in a new family or independence. To achieve this, the Department of Psychology works in coordination with the educational function developed in the centres. The aim is to provide comprehensive and exhaustive follow-up on the children and ensure them better-quality care.
In addition to the clinical interventions with the children, daily contact with the centres’ educators lets the educators get to know the children well and to very directly transmit to them the information they need to address the many challenges that occur in household coexistence due to the misalignments the children often present with.
Coordination work also extends to relations with their families, the Directorate General for Family and Children, social services, schools, mental health services, etc.
The children sometimes spend a long time in the centres and psychological support ensures a therapeutic accompaniment over this time and throughout all the changes taking place in their lives. In addition to the dedicated psychological programmes and medical treatments employed in line with each child’s needs, the psychologist helps them understand and accept their situation and that of their family.
This complements the educational task and equips the children with the psychological tools they need to cope with future independence in adult life and the personal resources that their parents lacked. The aim is to prevent a relapse into the vicious circle of marginalisation.
The psychological support work in the centres is carried out with the utmost rigour and the backing of professional programmes of proven value.