February RICF Update
Welcome to our first update of 2017. 2016 was a busy year for us all at RICF. Throughout the last year we supported five children and young people in short term kinship care placements, eleven children and young people in long term foster placements and fourteen mother and baby pairs in our short term Maternity Project.
Over the course of the year all of the families in our kinship care programme became financially independent and two of the young people in our foster programme found work after completing their secondary education. We continue to support all of these young people via our Independent Living Project with counselling and advocacy.
Mother and baby pair when they first entered our Maternity Project in 2014
Seven mother and baby pairs also graduated our Maternity Project in 2016 and are now financially independent. One of our recent graduates is pictured above when she first entered our project in 2014. After seven years of living with her boyfriend Ioanna (not her real name) believed she knew him pretty well. They were planning a future together when Ioanna found out that she was pregnant. Ioanna was excited to discover that she was pregnant but unfortunately her boyfriend didn’t share her happiness and became violent towards her before throwing her out of the apartment where they lived together. Shortly after he vanished and Ioanna has not seen him again.
Ioanna went back to live with her parents. While they were shocked to discover that Ioanna would be a single parent they welcomed her back into their home. After giving birth Ioanna did her best to look after her new son. While she had the unconditional support of her parents (both retired) the financial stress of feeding an extra mouth became too much for them. Ioanna asked the state social work department for help and her case was referred to RICF in 2014. As well as receiving financial and budgeting support Ioanna has received counselling and peer support via our monthly meetings.
Ioanna and her son now
Ioanna's son, who is now 3, is an active child with a charismatic personality. Ioanna works shifts in a supermarket and is being helped by her mother, who looks after her son and her two other grandsons. This job coupled with ongoing support from her parents has allowed Ioanna to become financially independent and graduate from our project.
Another key area of our work that we expanded on in 2016 was training foster carers and social workers who are employed by the Romanian state. You may remember reading about the UK charity Substitute Families for Abandoned Children’s (SFAC) visit to Romania in the Autumn to deliver training for our own foster carers and co-deliver training with RICF to foster carers and social workers employed by the Romanian state.
SFAC delivering part of the training course in Romania
One of the volunteers with SFAC, Walter has now written a blog about their visit entitled ‘A Pop Star and Foster Care in Romania.’ You can access the blog here. It is well worth a read! At the end of January 2017 RICF submitted an application with SFAC’s support to be accredited to deliver foster care training within Romania. Once granted this accreditation will allow us to charge a training fee for the courses that we run and help supplement our income.