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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

Family Support Project for Children in Residential Care, Hong Kong

Focus 7: Promoting sustainable reintegration of children into their family from an alternative care setting

Many children who are referred to a child residential care service have a disadvantaged family background. However, the service in Hong Kong had adopted an exclusively child-centred approach, without taking account of the child’s wider family. Based on the encouraging results of a pilot project in 2011 to 2012, a new project, ‘Walking Together – Family Support Project for Children in Residential Care’ was launched in April 2012 to better address the child’s family context.

This project is a collaborative effort between the Department of Social Work of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Sheng Kung Hui St. Christopher’s Home. This Home is a residential facility for children and young people aged 4 to 18 years whose families are experiencing various problems and crises. Since its goal was already to provide care until the children can return to their families or, if necessary, be placed in a long-term alternative care setting, the Home was already organising regular case conferences for all the children and their parents to strengthen family relationships.  

The rationale of the Walking Together project is to take this further by adopting a family-centred approach designed to support families whose children are currently in residential care at the Home. Its specific goals are to: decrease parental stress; enhance family cohesion; and break the social isolation and stigmatisation that these families may experience. In this way, preparations can be made for reintegrating the child on the basis of a stabilised family relationship, with follow-up after family reunion. The project includes staff training, research study and direct service. While the university offers family-centred practice training to the staff of the Home and heads up the research study, two staff-persons from the Home provide clinical and group work for the families.

For more information visit: www.skhsch.org.hk

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID