Street Children Programmes: Our Integrated Approach
Casa Alianza has developed a five stage core programme that starts on the streets and ends in street children having a home and hope for the future.
We start with street outreach and pre-community work with street children and homeless young people and then offer access to crisis centres, transition homes and finally group homes.
1. Street Outreach
The very first step is to reach out to the children. We find them on the streets, in parks, darkened hallways and around garbage dumps and in bus terminals...
Our outreach teams provide emergency medical care, counselling, informal education and friendship. Children are then encouraged to leave the streets and come to our Crisis Centres ("Refugios"). These offer immediate, round-the-clock care and someone to talk to. Each year our Outreach Teams work with around 1,000 street children in Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.
2. "Pre-Community" Services
Our pre-community services offer a means of transition away from life on the street. It consists of a non residential day service for kids who may have become addicted to drugs or who have been destabilised from the harsh realities of street life. Pre-community services help tackle high risk behaviour, get kids to deal with drug problems and help prepare them for entry to our residential programmes.
3. Crisis Centres
Our Crisis Centres offer food, clothing, a clean bed, medical attention, education, security and most importantly ... love. We follow up on work started in our "pre-community" programme with continued drug counselling and other services.
Many of the kids only stay for a few nights but of those that do return to the streets about half return to our centres at a later date for a longer stay. For each of those that stay we help them develop a "plan de vida" - a life plan for the future. This sets attainable goals for the short, medium and long term and encourages children to think about the future. Children also participate in informal educational activities, which prepare them for the public school system.
Once children have become more stable, regain their self-respect and some hope we then offer access to our transition homes.
4. Transition Homes
Our transition home staff are specially trained to help children develop long term goals and to think positively about the future. Young children are enrolled at schools and older teenagers are offered vocational training. The average residency in a Transition Home is about four months - children then move to a group home.
5. Group Homes
The final step in the long journey from despair to an independent life away from the streets is residency in one of our Group Homes. Here children are nurtured by a carefully chosen team of counsellors who try to create a positive family environment. Children learn to bond with their new "surrogate family" while pursuing further educational or professional opportunities.
Each home houses an average of 14 boys or girls. The children remain at the home until their eighteenth birthday or until they have completed their education. Leaving the home as young adults, armed with new vocational and life skills we encourage them to pursue further education or more advanced job training.