June 13, 2018

Preventing Family Separation and Supporting Deinstitutionalization in Mexico


Just over one year after the initial training, ISS-USA returned to Monterrey, Mexico for the follow-up mission to the project entitled, “Intervention in Cases of Children and Adolescents with Disabilities Separated, or at Risk of Separation, From Their Families.” The project is part of the ISS global initiative, “A Better Future Is Possible,” for children with disabilities living in institutional care. In Mexico, the project is in partnership with the local public child welfare entity, Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), in the capital city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

Alongside Elaine Weisman, ISS-USA's Program and Training Manager, three international experts from the pilot training returned for the follow up mission: Helma Van der Hoeven, a family therapist from Danielle Children's Fund (DCF) in Ecuador, Carolina Bascuñán Dominguez, an international expert on the rights of children in residential care, and Barbara Roller, an occupational therapist specializing in children with multiple disabilities.
The week’s activities included case review and group discussions with professionals from state and local DIF offices and private organizations, as well as joint sessions with families in the program, respite caregivers, and the professionals supporting their cases. Discussion and expert feedback focused on the importance of a family-centered process that elevates the voice of the child and strengthens the family system while keeping the child at the center of decision making.
Throughout the week, DIF Monterrey shared the achievements and ongoing challenges in the development of programs and community-based services to prevent family separation and support deinstitutionalization. The team has implemented new protocols for early identification of children with disabilities in the community who are at risk of separation, ensuring their families have access to basic needs such as transportation to medical appointments and an appropriate diagnosis for their child. They are also developing a “Respite Family” program where trusted community and family members can receive support and training to provide temporary relief to primary caregivers of children with a disability. Respite care is an integral part of DIF Monterrey’s strategy to provide an individualized care plan for each child so they can remain safe and meet developmental milestones in a family environment. 
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