Dominican Republic continues movement toward foster care

SANTO DOMINGO, Domincan Republic – The Dominican Republic took another public step toward starting a national foster care program as Claudia Leon, executive director of Buckner Peru, shared with government workers and directors the process for executing and implementing foster care in the Dominican Republic.

Foster care is a relatively new venture in Latin American countries where institutions are the only option for vulnerable and orphan children. Due to the success of the foster care model in Peru, leaders in other countries are seeing foster care is a valid measure for protecting and keeping children healthy.

In 2013, the Dominican Republic entered an agreement with Buckner Dominicana, Buckner Peru, and CONANI (the Dominican National Council for Childhood and Adolescence) to develop foster care public policy and implement a pilot program in three regions of the country.

The yearlong pilot is scheduled to begin in July with a 6-month and end-of-year evaluation with the hopes that once finished, a formal foster care national policy in the Dominican Republic will be created.

“This does not mean that the deinstitutionalization policies have been implemented yet. We still have a long way to go, but we are in an adequate moment to rethink the subject,” Leon said.

Implementing foster care in the Dominican Republic will do more than transform the way vulnerable and orphan children are cared for; it will provide a safer and healthier living arrangement.

Research indicates institutionalized children are often less developed and more vulnerable than children placed in foster homes. As a result, Leon believes the impact of introducing a foster care program in the Dominican Republic will be significant especially as the government is receptive to the change.

“The Dominican Republic government has been assuming a governing role in the subject, and they really moved economic and professional resources to assure that the foster care program someday will be a reality in their country,” she said.

To date, the Dominican team has traveled to Peru to see how the foster care program is developing there and CONANI’s technical team has been trained. Buckner Dominicana and Buckner Peru are providing the construction of instruments, training professionals and execution supervision.

“We can’t say it is a finished work yet,” Leon said. “This is just starting, but we are very happy with what we have been constructing together.”

Aimee Freston is the print publications editor for Buckner International. Contact her at afreston[at]buckner[dot]org.

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