577,000 orphans struggle to survive in Colombia. This number could be drastically reduced through family preservation and adoption programs, but tragically, due to a limited number of child welfare staff in Colombia, many children are never registered for adoption. Children within vulnerable families struggle to break the cycle of poverty as well—over half of Colombia’s children do not attend elementary school.
OUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE
AGCI is working to recruit and hire a team of local leaders who will open a regional Child Advocacy Center in Colombia. With this regional center as a hub, it’s our goal to:
PREVENT Expand family preservation programs throughout Colombia so that 27,300 children never enter institutional care.
PROVIDE Create elevated care for orphans through caregiver trainings in collaboration with the central authority and partner homes so that 119,000 children can receive quality care and education.
PLACE Secure adoption grants so that 150 older children and sibling groups have an opportunity to be adopted.
PREPARE Pilot a partner home model for aging out orphans to attend university so that 60 older children are prepared to successfully transition to independence.
POLICY Influence child welfare policy at the highest level of government and create a path to family for 154,000 orphans throughout Colombia. Additionally, we’re working to unite over 30 NGOs in order to create a regionally unified strategic Child Advocacy plan.
We are so thrilled to be putting the wheels in motion for our Dream Homes! These homes will provide a safe space for teenagers to transition into independent adulthood while attending college or a vocational training program.
We’re thrilled to partner with a community-based organization in Colombia that works with vulnerable families and schools to help children with behavioral issues thrive. This life changing organization works within a community in Colombia in which 98% of families are in the lowest socio-economic class. Education Sponsorship gives children the tools they need to excel in school through speech therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling.
Due to economic hardships within many of these children’s families, therapy is often inconsistent because families are unable to pay for these necessary services. Through our partnership, over the next 6 months, we’ll begin matching 100 children within this program with sponsors to ensure they receive the therapy they need to thrive.
Our goal is to elevate childcare in Colombia’s institutions by implementing a holistic caretaker training program that will create new care regulations in the country. By implementing this training at the national level, we believe we can dramatically improve the care for hundreds of thousands of children. Through the program, caregivers will receive the knowledge and skills they need to provide specialized, family-like care for children across Colombia.
AGCI is now working with representatives in Colombia to ensure that key child welfare leaders are trained in the curriculum before spreading the program to hundreds of orphanage staff at the grass roots level. We know this training will change lives and allow children to experience a marked improvement in their physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development; the tools they need to reach their full potential.
Finding Families for Orphans
The care at the homes we partner with is exceptional and the staff provides us with detailed reports on all waiting children so we’re best able to advocate for them. We’ve been elevating care and finding families for children in Colombia since 2014. In that time, 20% of adoptions were completed in just 6 months and families received over $28,180 in adoption grants.
Children of all ages are waiting in Colombia for their forever families—in 2016, 50% of the children adopted through AGCI’s Colombia program were under 1 years old at the time of placement.
We’re working to prepare orphans who are aging out of institutions with the tools they need to follow their dreams. Together with our partner in Colombia, we’re creating Dream Homes for kids aging out of institutional care. Dream Homes provide a safe space for teenagers to transition into independent adulthood.
Through dorm style housing, kids who previously would have been on the streets will now have an opportunity to study, live, and learn how to be an adult while pursuing a college degree or vocational training program. House “parents” will provide guidance, support, and love during this critical time of growth and self-discovery.
AGCI is working to change the landscape of adoption and orphan advocacy in Colombia by hiring a social worker to advocate for over 5,000 children who are waiting for forever families. By traveling throughout Colombia, she ensures information, photos and paperwork for adoptable children are up-to-date, completed and sent to the Central Authority so that adoption agencies around the world can find more families for waiting children.
Thanks to the implementation of AGCI’s social worker, 118 children’s files have been reviewed and summarized, 60 children’s videos have been completed, and 18 medical files have been translated.
We believe every child, regardless of their circumstances, deserves to find true connection, healing, and love…
Having aged out of the system, Anderson had nowhere to turn, and no education or family support to help him create a life for himself. Filled with despair and hopelessness, on his 16th birthday, Anderson attempted to take his own life. We are so thankful that this amazing young man lived. Thanks to a program run by our partner in Colombia, Anderson now has a job, an education, and best of all, purpose—he now serves as a mentor for other older orphans in his community. While the road ahead is still uncertain, Anderson now recognizes his own self-worth and has a deep desire to help others realize that they have value, too.