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Empowering Faith Communities to Implement Quality Care: Growing the Local Church as a Partner in Better Care. Kathleen Riordan Better Care Network Quality in Alternative Care Conference Prague, Czech Republic April 4, 2011. ABOUT BETTER CARE NETWORK.

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Empowering Faith Communities to Implement Quality Care:

Growing the Local Church as a Partner in Better Care

Kathleen Riordan

Better Care Network

Quality in Alternative Care Conference

Prague, Czech Republic

April 4, 2011

about better care network
  • BCN serves as convener and knowledge broker across key stakeholders to raise the profile and enhance global response of children without adequate family care.
  • Facilitates information exchange and collaboration, advocating for technically sound policy and programmatic action on global, regional and national levels in order to:
    • Reduce instances of separation and abandonment
    • Reunite children outside of family care with their families, wherever possible and appropriate
    • Increase, strengthen and support family and community-based care options for children
    • Establish international and national standards for all forms of care for children without adequate family care and mechanisms for ensuring compliance
    • Ensure that residential institutions are used in a very limited manner and only when appropriate
  • US Evangelical Christian as actors in responding to children without parental care.
  • Community based organizations, faith based groups, churches as child protection actors
  • Advocacy and partnership building to promote shift towards family based options
  • Experiences of faith based communities partnering with US Christian donor communities to promote better practice and reduce reliance on orphanages.
united states christian response to children without p arental c are
United States Christian Response to Children without Parental Care
  • Collective commitment and faith directive to respond to needs of vulnerable children
  • Remarkable allocation of fiscal and human resources
  • Operating outside spheres of influence of broader development and child welfare community
  • Access to a consistent and dedicated stream of volunteers

In Zimbabwe, 80% of new orphanages built in a ten year span were initiated by faith based groups.

  • 90% of funding came from Pentecostal and Evangelical churches in the United States.
  • US Christian community spent $1.6 billion dollars on short-terms mission in 2008 alone
  • The fiscal contribution of faith based volunteers throughout Africa is enormous – conservatively estimated to be worth US $5 billion annually in 2006.

Trends in Response

  • Well-intentioned but at times misguided programs and practice
  • Interventions based on common perceptions of orphans as opposed to contextualized understanding of child vulnerability
  • Lack of knowledge of harmful impacts of institutionalization on children
  • Heaving reliance on non local and temporary staff in caregiving roles
the partner on the ground the local church and faith community
The Partner on the Ground: The Local Church and Faith Community
  • Where formal social services and national interventions fail to reach families and communities in need, local entities such as the church and faith-based communities are serving as informal social service agents
  • Church communities mobilize local capacity, fill gaps in service provision and absorb responsibility for day to day care and protection
    • Supporting caregivers
    • Strengthening families
    • Facilitating care placements
    • Supporting livelihoods
    • Providing home-based care
the partner on the ground the local church and faith community1
The Partner on the Ground: The Local Church and Faith Community
  • Local church has trust and respect of local community- facilitating integrated relationships with beneficiaries.
  • Commitment – Among 25 supported FBO orphan programs in Zimbabwe, only one of 800 volunteers dropped out over several years of program history.
  • In Zambia and Lesotho, church members identifying the most valued attribute of religious community services ranked the intangible contributions of spiritual encouragement and compassionate care over “tangible” factors and interventions.
church to church partnerships redefining us christian engagement
Church-to-Church PartnershipsRedefining US Christian Engagement
  • A faith friendly guide for church communities modeling promising examples of partnership around care issues
    • Strategies for strengthening family and community based care
    • Program models, key principles of practice for engaging with local communities, and technical resources to ensure best interests of children remain paramount.
    • Synergies between cultural and religious framework and the international guidance and best practice
    • Importance of capacity building, asset based methodologies and empowerment of local leadership.
strategies for churches working with children
Strategies for Churches Working with Children
  • Focus on the most vulnerable children, not only those orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
  • Reduce stigma and discrimination
  • Strengthen the ability of caregivers to earn livelihoods
  • Provide material assistance to those who are too ill or too old to work
  • Provide daycare and other support services that ease the burden on caregivers
  • Support schools and ensure access to education
  • Support the psychosocial and spiritual, as we all material needs of children
communities call for family based care

“Staying as a family, with extended family and siblings, you are stronger, you share the same pains. There is a bond. Staying in an orphanage, you’re just another orphan… Who is there to give 500 children love?”

-Jessica Okella,

ALARM Uganda

Communities Call for Family Based Care

african leadership and reconciliation ministries kampala uganda

Using Pastoral Leadership Programs to promote family strengthening initiatives

  • Church-led capacity building initiatives through faith groups
  • Livelihoods programming, compulsory savings programs, and care cooperatives for caregivers
African Leadership and Reconciliation MinistriesKampala, Uganda
african leadership and reconciliation ministries gulu uganda

Using the Church to Reduce Stigma

  • Incorporating conflict resolution and reconciliation initiatives into church and community programming
  • Reintegrating children forced into armed conflict back into communities and homes
  • Supporting youth-headed households
African Leadership and Reconciliation MinistriesGulu, Uganda
hope for life nakuru aids initiative nakuru kenya
Hope for Life & Nakuru AIDS InitiativeNakuru, Kenya
  • Capacitating the Church to reach the most vulnerable
  • Mapping assessment of needs and tailoring responses in context of other actors
  • Deliberate use of external partners and funding in community
  • Community center for children with disabilities, including care cooperatives, skills training, prevention of family separation initiatives
mission community church and somebody cares lilongwe malawi
Mission Community Churchand Somebody CaresLilongwe, Malawi
  • Church leading the community toward self-sufficiency
  • Church mobilizing partnership as a two way engagement
  • Community transformation independent of outside resource and sustainable from within
    • Pastoral training for peer mentoring and skills development, Home-based care and support, subsistence farming
challenges and next steps
Challengesand Next Steps
  • Harnessing the full capacity of faith-based groups to support children and families is crucial, but, to date, few community-level FBO efforts have been integrated within formal national responses or have received external funding
  • Next Steps
    • Integrating community level responses into formal national and international responses.
    • Ensuring shared influence
    • Leveraging capacities and resources within communities to advance care and strengthen families
    • Ensure program design meets quality standards in line with international framework
    • Promote rigorous evaluations to determine effectiveness, cost, scalability and sustainability
    • Identify further opportunities to include changes in practice and donor streams to reduce reliance on institutional care.

Learn More

To learn more or to receive a copy of the upcoming publication contact:

Kathleen Riordan