It is a Village by name but for the children in care and parents who live here, it is simply referred to as home.
The lush green trees almost exceed climbing heights for the children. Almost! Squirrels run, rabbits will hop in to say hello, and the only sound drowning out the birds are the kids … and that is most heartwarming sound of all. And then of course there’s the healthy competition on the sports court. The kids are out there at every opportunity. Even in the middle of winter they’ll be out there shooting hoops.
But more than the five big, beautiful homes and the picturesque setting, the Village represents a unique model of healing. It functions to provide some of the very things that these children have lost. The Village provides a sense of community, connection and belonging, in a system where isolation is all too frequent. This Village shouts to kids in care, “You Matter!.”
“We’re so thankful to have a place we can call home and where we can have a family. We didn’t believe about families before we came here. We’re a family now, and you all gave us this gift.”
And because of their unique experiences and vulnerabilities, kids living in alternative care require consistent opportunities where they are able to experience success. Only then can they feel as though they are worth something; that they belong just as much as any other child. Given the range of special needs – such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – among these children, several programs are in place to give them the tools necessary to grow into successful and contributing adults.
As much as we try to be the teachers, we learn from these kids on a daily basis. We witness them working out their differences playing in the yard, communicating EXACTLY what they are feeling, and always willing to give others a second chance.
These kids have expressed to us that their neighbours within the Village are like extended family and many say that even though they are all different, they are all in alternative care and can share that with one another.
We also support further foster families in the community, meaning our greater Village comprises a total of 10 homes with 18 Caregivers, 40 children, and 5 youth transitioning out of care. We own the five homes and Village Centre on our wooded 2.5 acre site, with the other five homes integrated in the surrounding geographic area. Through a $450,000 capital campaign from 2014 – 2017, we built five much-needed transition suites for homeless youth who age out of the foster care system when they turn 19.
With your help, we can continue to offer a village of support, both for the children living in the Village and those within our communities.
* Please note that due to privacy laws (and our desire for the children to live as normal lives as possible), we cannot show the children’s faces in photos and we do not allow the general public to visit our Village. Additionally, volunteers cannot work with the children and youth in our Village.
Caregivers in our Village are not employed by SOS Children’s Village BC, they are contracted with Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, a delegated agency of British Columbia’s Ministry of Children and Family Development.
A COMMUNITY OF BELONGING
SOS Children’s Villages BC nurtures children in the foster care system, and those who have recently left care, through our Village built exclusively for youth in these situations. These children were removed from their homes due to a number of reasons. They spend their childhood with foster families selected by resource workers, who work for the Ministry of Children & Family Development or delegated agencies. The kids fill the the Village with their energy, making it an active place. They have access to an array of social, education, cultural, and mental health services.
The caregivers are also a core of the Village, because its unique model provides them support and develops caregiver skills and abilities to better care for the children in their homes. The model we built helps the children and families live and thrive in a family based care environment, creating a place of belonging. The Village places a high priority on maintaining family connections between siblings, generally placing them in the same house.
Most children that stay at the Village are there for the majority of their childhood (continuing custody) until they are ready to age out. When ready, SOS BC also provides a number of bridging programs for youth including Transition to Adulthood (one-on-one support) and Year Intensive Housing (one-on-one intensive housing support), where we prepare our youth for independence. These programs also provide outreach to other young adults in the community where we serve 65 youth each year in the cities of Surrey, White Rock, Langley, and Delta.
Regardless of where youth become connected to our programs and services, we try to stay connected to these individuals throughout their life – ensuring they have a place to call home and somewhere they know they belong.
HELP NURTURE THIS PLACE OF BELONGING
A SPECIAL LOOK INSIDE ONE OF OUR FAMILY-BASED CARE HOMES
Though the pandemic was in full swing by fall of 2020, SOS Children’s Village BC program staff were hard at work ensuring health and safety were paramount in all of our services for the community of families, children, and youth we work with.
One of our bigger challenges last year was transitioning a new family into one of our five homes during the pandemic, doing whatever we could to make the family and children feel welcome in their new home.
We want to give you a special look into this Village home!
In partnership with SOS Children’s Villages Canada, EQ3 Modern Furniture, and interior designer Jason Buenen from Buenen Design, we were able to create a welcoming home – full of love and light – to bring resolve and comfort to the family. We are pleased to present you with photos of the home at the completion of the project.
Some highlights of the project include:
♥ New furnishings: Four bedrooms in the home (including beds, dressers, and end tables) as well as the kitchen, the dining area, and the living room – where families spend most of their time – all received new furnishings. New desk space also ensured the children have a great place to do their schoolwork.
♥ A sense of pride and belonging: Most children in care don’t have the liberty to take their bedrooms with them when they leave their home and settle into a foster home. Many of the items belong to others and are second hand. In contrast, this partnership gave pride and a sense of belonging to children in unfortunate circumstances.
♥ Thanks to this project: We were able to bring a sense of worthiness that all children deserve during an extremely challenging time.
By donating online today, you can help ensure children in care don’t have to endure moving from community to community multiple times in their life or have to experience being separated from their siblings. Your support ensures children with care experience move into a house that they can always call home, even after they age out of care.
A special thank you to EQ3 for donating these items to our organization, and to Jason Buenen from Buenen Design for his passion and effort in making this house a home for kids in care!
Please visit our blog if you would like to read more in depth about this project.