New Hope for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children in Honduras
— Analiz Schremmer · Tuesday, January 22, 2019 —
Hope of Jesus, a children’s home near San Pedro Sula, Honduras, has joined Orphan Outreach as its newest partner ministry. The partnership was an easy decision led by the Lord, says Katherine Cheng, director of programs in Latin America.
“We met them about a year ago,” she says. “It was quickly evident how aligned our hearts and minds are in the care of kids and our quest for best practices. This is one of the best homes I’ve seen in Honduras. They have top notch, trained staff, a psychologist and a social worker. They want to make the environment as close to a family as possible.”
As both Orphan Outreach and Hope of Jesus seek to place children in the most family-like environment as possible, it made sense to form a partnership to work together towards that goal.
“Even though their program is already top notch, we can help provide more forms of care for the children they serve, like reintegrating them with their biological families when appropriate and after care services when they age out,” Cheng says.
The home, which currently cares for 17 children ages 4 to 17, hopes to eventually transition the children into families, something that Orphan Outreach can help facilitate. That may mean returning to their biological parents, relatives, adoption, or even entering into foster care.
The closer we can get to putting children in authentic family structures, the better, Cheng explains. When children can’t be with their biological families, foster care is one option within the continuum of care.
“We’ve been in process of [working with the government] developing private foster care in Honduras to create legislation that will allow for foster care to be operated by non-governmental organizations, in coordination with and under the supervision of the government,” Cheng says. “Our goal is for Hope of Jesus to become part of a pilot program that we’d use to facilitate foster care. And we know that foster care will be a really good option for some of the children in the home.”
Austin South, Regional Director of Latin America for Orphan Outreach, says this strategic partnership is ideal to roll out a pilot foster care program.
“It is an opportunity for us to work with like-minded people to expand the continuum of care, not only within the program, but in Honduras in general,” he says. “This is something that we hope can serve as a model that can be replicated in other villages and that other organizations can replicate as well. We believe it’s a big step in helping to care for vulnerable children.”
South says that Orphan Outreach will also focus on strengthening the community surrounding the home.
“These are the types of communities that a lot of these kids come from and will be returning to,” he says. “It goes hand in hand with reintegration, helping kids that are aging out of care and with preventative care, because if we can help families thrive from the beginning, they will hopefully never have to go through the trauma of separation.”
Hope of Jesus was founded by Michael and Kimberly Miller in 2010. After participating in a church mission trip in 1999, Mike was moved to help orphaned and vulnerable children. He and his wife finally entered the mission field full time in 2006.
Kim says the decision to partner with Orphan Outreach came from a desire to see the children they love placed in loving, permanent families.
“While our small group home undoubtedly provides high-quality, individualized care in a family-like atmosphere, it is not a permanent family nor a substitute for adoption,” she says. “At the end of the day, the children know their caregiver is a paid employee, and in our experience, that negatively impacts the connection the child is able to form with the caregiver.”
Miller says they began doing research and quickly found that Orphan Outreach was spearheading the privatized foster care movement in Honduras.
“Through the partnership, we hope to expand the continuum of care offered in Honduras to include foster care and family reintegration,” she says. “Small group homes, like Hope of Jesus, will be one of the options for vulnerable children in the child protection system instead of the only option. We will finally see the culmination of our vision to place children in loving Christian families or reunite them with their biological family so they can have the support they desperately need.”