Autumn 2018 Newsletter
Thank you so much for your continued support for RICF. We are happy to bring you news of our two key projects in Romania.
RICF Foster care update
This autumn, with additional support from the US Charity Remember Nhu, we have been able to recruit 4 more state-employed foster carers into our foster care project 'A Family for me’.
· RICF employs two of its own foster carers at a cost of approximately £410 / month for the salary plus a childcare allowance of approximately £40 / month. RICF organised these placements and employed these foster carers in 2009. One of these children was a baby when placed in her foster placement and has remained with the same foster family for 9 years and is a thriving member of the family. The other was 8 years old when she was placed and has been loved and supported by the same foster family through the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence. We are so grateful to these foster carers and their families for the love and consistency they have shown to the children in their care.
· The salary for the foster carers has been rising in line with the Romanian statutory minimum wage, and is up from approximately £360 / month last year. RICF has decided not to employ any more of its own foster carers given the high monthly cost, but is committed to continuing to employ its existing two foster carers until the children in their care reach adulthood.
· In addition, RICF has been collaborating with 9 state-employed foster carers who between them care for 11 children. RICF provides a package of support which costs approximately £50 / month per child (£40 childcare allowance to the foster carer plus £10 for training materials, workshops, peer support meetings, communication costs etc.) With the additional support from Remember Nhu we have been able to welcome 4 more state-employed foster carers into this group from autumn 2018. Through this support group we provide training and support to existing foster carers to help equip them to provide the best possible environment for the children in their care.
We are delighted that our existing foster carers are always so welcoming of new group participants, making it a fun relaxed environment for new foster carers to join. As well as learning from the interactive discussions facilitated by our HQ team with their backgrounds in psychology (Simona) and social work (Ovidiu and Emilia) the foster carers learn from each other as they share from their own experiences.
The children we support in foster care come from a variety of different backgrounds, although all of them have experienced abandonment, bereavement or some other trauma or abuse necessitating long term foster care. Some of the children are very high achievers, such as one girl who is training as part of the national team for her particular sport alongside her classwork for year 9 in highschool, having successfully completed her year 8 school exams in June. Another of the girls in our care is trying to catch up to reach the standard of other pupils in her class, having had a very difficult start in her life.
Over the summer, one of the younger children who had been in foster care with one of our established foster carers for about 4 years was successfully reintegrated with her biological family. This foster carer now has a young woman of 18 in a placement with her. This young woman is entitled to foster care in Romania as she is completing high school - currently year 11.
Over the summer it was great to see so many of the children in foster care going on holiday with their foster carers and their families. This is a real time for bonding away from the stress of day to day school commitments. Many families living in and around Bucharest have extended family in the countryside, sometimes in the mountains or by the sea, and it is common for city families to spend a month in the countryside with extended family in the summer. The children were impatient to see their school mates again when school restarted in September, and to tell them all about how they had spent their summer holidays. Each new school year brings tougher classwork and greater challenges, but the children are not afraid and are motivated and encouraged by their foster carers to continue and excel in the activities they have started.
Abandonment prevention project update
One of the interesting things we have observed in this project is an increased number of Syrian families we have been supporting over the last couple of years. The team have recently recruited another immigrant family from Syria into this project. The family lost their home and some family members in the war in Syria. They moved to Romania 4 years ago but the mother has not yet learned to speak or write Romanian. She can communicate in English with those group members who know English, and we hope her participation in the group will help her learn the Romanian language and develop new friendships and a support network. Her husband is already fluent in Romanian. The family live in a rented 2 room apartment with their 3 year old son and 3-month baby. They were very pleased with the support group meeting and particularly with the warm welcome they received from the other participants. This kind of family is quite a contrast to some of our other group participants - young mums of 15 or 16 needing help with parenting skills and budgeting whilst themselves completing schooling. However, it is humbling to see how the diverse members of the group respect and learn from each other, and although vulnerable in different ways, they all benefit from the structure and support of the group.
September was the last month of financial support for another of our Syrian families, who have been part of the abandonment prevention project for well over a year. This family’s participation had been extended due to exceptional need in the family and the child being diagnosed with autism and requiring special therapy. The mother has said that she would like to continue coming to the group support meetings even once the financial support has ceased, and that she will maintain her friendship with the other mothers.
Abandonment prevention project overview
RICF’s abandonment prevention project provides parenting workshops, mentoring, peer support, optional spiritual support meetings, and financial support which tapers down over the 12 months to avoid creating financial dependency. One of the key objectives of this project is to help women to become self sufficient, earning a wage through safe and regular employment, and to access benefits to which they are entitled, for example child allowances, carer’s allowances etc to make the family budget add up. In most cases by 12 months we have helped the woman find employment so she is ready to ‘graduate’ from the project and no longer needs the financial support.
We are grateful to all our supporters for their financial contributions which make all this work possible.
With the help of US Charity Remember Nhu we have been able to increase the numbers of mums and babies we are able to support through this project from 10 to 13 from autumn 2018 for 12 months.
Many thanks as well to all our fantastic regular supporters in the UK, USA and Romania for providing the financial support that allows the whole organisation to run, with appropriate premises and our qualified and dedicated staff team in Bucharest. This work is making a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families.
God bless you!
Suzie Marsden, 15/11/2018