The pandemic of Covid-19 that erupted in March 2020 has been, and still is, a source of pain for millions of people. Many aspects of what daily life was up to that date have changed, too many for the worse, and some others have been for the better. In this second group can be framed the foster care program for minors of the Madrid’s community ‘A family course’, which has been running for just over two and a half years.
Put on underway in 2020 as a pilot project so that the minors supervised by the regional Administration could spend the months of the school year in a family. The objective was that they were not experiencing the worst of the pandemic in residences, where the virus made it difficult to coexist in residential centers due to positive cases, isolation and strict confinement.
In this first stage they participated ten families that welcomed 12 minors. The program gave very good results, as recognized by the Ministry of Family, Youth and Social Policy, and for this reason it was decided to expand it. Last year the results improved: there were 22 families and 22 minors fostered during the course and in 2022 it has not stopped growing. 35 families and 56 minors from 16 centers in the region are already participating.
One of these homes is the one formed by Sonia and Jorge together with their children Nacho and Aroa, aged 15 and 11. María (fictitious name) arrived at her house in January 2021, who is currently 16 years old and has lived in sheltered centers since she was 9. María and Sonia met four years ago, when the second began to collaborate in the juvenile center where the girl resided through the NGO Sueña despierto. She sought this volunteering as an escape valve at a time of work stress and she assures that it was a success. “When she arrived she felt peace,” she recalls.
For this reason, at the end of 2020, the center’s management told him about the ‘A family course’ program. They offered him the chance to welcome Maria into their familythat minor with whom he shared afternoons of homework, walks and confidences for a long time.
“The first thing I did was talk to my husband and my children. They did not physically know María, but I had told them a lot about her, about everything we did when we were together,” Sonia tells 20 minutes. For her, she recalls, it was important that her children agreed to foster. “She wanted to set up a home,” she points out, and based on the experience she recounts, she succeeded. “The children were very happy from the beginning. Maria is one more member of my family: there are five of us from minute one”, asserts this woman from Madrid, a neighbor of a town in the mountains.
María has lived with Sonia and Jorge’s family since January 2021. The ‘A family course’ program coincides with the school year, from September to June, but it can be extended with the ‘Family Holidays’ initiative, which takes place during the summer months. This family has been adhering to the different calls and now she is an ‘ambassador’ of this type of foster care. “It is a pity that more is not known about the existence of programs,” Sonia points out, as she does not miss an opportunity to make the benefits of this type of initiative known to her family and friends.
“Everyone asks me if we have adopted the girl, there is great ignorance. But I tell them no, that there is no need to adopt to help a child“, he asserts. The council headed by Concepción Dancausa also wants to make these foster care programs known to Madrid society because it has been proposed that no minor live in supervised centers.
“In the residence they live very well and the educators are very attentive, but will never be the same as a family“, says Sonia, who stresses that it is “important” that all children can live in a family. “Many do not know what it is because they have always been in centers,” she laments.
“The first day we went shopping with her was like going to the amusement park. There are day-to-day things that your children do not value because they have always had it and for them it is new and quite an experience. She is very pretty “, points out this mother from Madrid as an example of how gratifying the foster care of María is turning out for her.
many ways to help
In light of her experience, Sonia encourages people from Madrid to take an interest in foster care for minors. If any person or family has doubts, this mother proposes learn about the work carried out by associations such as ‘Soñar despierto’, with whom she has collaborated for years, who have many lines to help and are a good way of contacting the world of foster care. “You can go help the children with their homework one afternoon in the centers, accompany them to extracurricular activities or spend a Saturday outside the residence with the minors who do not have a family and do not go out or receive visitors,” she details.
“Families will have support for foster care that they might require. Support and communication groups will be articulated among the participating families where they can share their experiences and difficulties”, they also highlight the Department of Family, Youth and Social Policy, an area determined to promote foster care with programs such as ‘A family course’, ‘Family vacation’ or increasing aid for foster parents establishing new statuses for them.
“The proximity of the home to the educational center and the center where the child usually resides are some of the factors that are taken into account to carry out the selection,” they add, to emphasize that the people who participate will count “at all times” with the support of the Madrid’s community to manage and resolve possible doubts, difficulties and needs that may arise.
“This is the best alternative for the personal and social development of children who are in the protection system,” Minister Concepción Dancausa stressed this Friday about foster care in an act for World Children’s Day. According to the data provided by the Government, 60% of the 3,700 minors in the care of the Community of Madrid already live in a home and the percentage of families that have attended information sessions on this formula has increased by 40% in 2022.