Project J519 works in partnership with Leyte-Samar Center For Change Foundation Inc. in the Philippines. It is a holistic care development project whose primary aim is improving the lives and future opportunities of street children and other “at risk” children referred by government channels. As at October 2019 the centre was accredited by Department of Social Welfare and Development Philippines (DSWD) at level 2 (5 years accreditation) for “alternative family care”. Wherever possible children are reintegrated back into the greater Filipino community, as soon as both child and family are ready. As of October 2019 175 children have been successfully reintegrated to families! Other youth are in independent living or continuing college education. The project has five of former children working on the staff, holding such responsible positions as Nurse and Finance Manager, Social Worker, Teacher, House Parent and Grounds Staff.
As early as 2002, Center For Change identified that traditional feeding programs and drop in centres do no more than make life easier for children to stay on the streets, and that what was needed was a new beginning away from street life. While not every child that chooses street life can be assisted, the project can help those who want to break with the street culture and have a new beginning. The project employs a holistic model to assist children in their transition out of street life, back into mainstream Filipino society. Other children in distress and in need of a safe environment have also been embraced into the project when they are referred to through government referrals.
This model creates a stable alternative family environment with enrollment in the project’s private school which especially caters for children who have not been privileged to attend school, or who have dropped out of the large public school system. The Department of Education has given full recognition to the elementary school which is also open to the greater community. When children reach high school level they are enrolled in our local government school and then either proceed to skills training or College. There are a range of social activities that expand the abilities of the children to participate in relating to others in Kid’s Club, Youth Club, or Sports and Music.
Our project is also accredited with DSWD for Community Projects. Foremost is the Child Sponsorship Program, where children receive help with their education and any medical needs. This project began more than twenty years ago and has now embraced children in need in the greater community and children being reunited with their families from the alternative family care project.
Disaster Risk Reduction is also a priority of Center For Change, and a Community Evacuation Centre has been built to give shelter in time of typhoons to the greater community.