We believe God designed families to depict a biblical metaphor for how He relates to us, His children. Family provides a sense of belonging, a unit that cheers you on, and a group that shares cultural values. Family preservation is a priority for Sozo Children as many of the children we encounter come from loving, yet vulnerable families.
We sat down with our Child Development Director, Aggie, to answer some questions about what resettlement is, how assessments work, and why we believe it is ultimately the best option for the reconciliation of family relationships.
Q: What is resettlement?
Resettlement is when a child in one of Sozo Children’s homes is deemed able to reintegrate with their biological family by Sozo’s child development team.
Q: What is the Ministry of Gender and how does Sozo Children work with them?
The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is a government agency in Uganda that is responsible for community empowerment, protection and promotion of the rights and obligation of the specified vulnerable groups for social protection and gender responsive development.
In short, the Ministry of Gender ensures that organizations, like Sozo Children, are implementing appropriate policies and guidelines that promote children’s rights, safety, and protection.
Q: What is family tracing?
The tracing process occurs before a child is officially brought under the care of Sozo Children to look for the family of origin or any relatives that could potentially care for the child.
Q: How does Sozo Children choose who gets resettled?
After a child is placed in a Sozo Children home, our social workers work with families continually to assess their needs and suitability for resettlement. Our first priority is to ensure child safety when considering resettlement. Sozo Children social workers assess family wellness to ensure there is no threat of abuse or neglect when resettling a child into their family. We also consider the age of the child in respect to Ugandan law regulating children’s homes. We believe in the child’s right to be involved in their care plan, so we collaborate with families and children to determine readiness for resettlement.
Q: What process does a child go through to prepare for resettlement?
Step 1: Family Tracing
When the Ministry of Gender places a child under Sozo Children’s care, our social workers seek to establish a connection with the child’s biological family within the first 30 days. If family is located, the social worker creates a plan of care based on the child’s needs which often involves planning for resettlement. If family is not located, the child is officially admitted into the Sozo Children home and tracing continues.
Step 2: Identification
Social workers and Child Development Director identify potential candidates for resettlement.
Step 3: Post-tracing Counseling
Social workers sit with the child to get their feedback and attitude towards the tracing exercise.
Social workers counsel the child to help them understand the resettlement process and involve the child in his or her care plan. The child has the opportunity to give feedback and receive emotional support.
Step 4: Family Assessments
Family assessments are completed to give us insight on how to support a child and their family. We are able to determine the condition at the home and community where a child might be resettled.
Step 5: Reconciliation Visits
Our social workers arrange intentional bonding visits between the child and their family before they officially move into resettlement.
Step 6: Counseling and Interview
Our Ugandan counselor and social workers meet with each child before resettlement occurs to cover the benefits of resettlement, answer questions, and address any concerns.
Step 7: Resettlement Package
We prepare packages with items like mosquito nets, food, toiletries, etc. needed to support the child’s transition.
Step 8: Follow Ups
After resettlement occurs, regular visits are planned by our social workers to check on the child’s transition back to life with their family and community.
Q: How are families prepared before resettlement?
Families are given caregiver’s training prior to the resettlement to give them confidence and emotional support upon receiving the child. This training covers their role as a parent to provide, protect, and nurture their children. Usually, there are family and individual counseling sessions or meetings with government officials from the Ministry of Gender, especially the probation officers. Families are briefed on the best ways to support their child’s specific behaviors, emotional, or medical needs. The social worker will also work with the family to identify resources to help the family stay strong and meet the child’s other basic needs.
Q: Why is resettlement a good thing?
At Sozo Children, we embrace resettlement because we appreciate God’s design for family. A child’s biological family is able to provide a sense of belonging, a lifelong connection to a community, cultural traditions, shared history, and important skills.
Q: What is our hope for resettlement?
Our hope is to ensure the successful reunification of a child back to his or her family of origin through the resettlement process. Reuniting children with family will only be considered the best option if it is deemed safe and appropriate for the child’s case.
Q: How do we support families after resettlement?
Our social workers, employed by Sozo Children in Uganda, stay connected and involved in the child's life as a way of supporting parents. Through our resettlement transition process we maintain the child’s education, medical care, and discipleship.
Q: What if resettlement is not possible?
We do all we can to ensure successful resettlement, as well as, explore different options of alternative care provided in Uganda including domestic adoption, long-term foster care, and kinship care. In cases where those options are not possible, Sozo Children is committed to supporting that child in our homes, with the permission of the probation officers.
Q: How long is the resettlement process?
The process varies case by case depending on the circumstances and the readiness of the child and family to reintegrate. In some cases, resettlement can take only a few months, whereas others might take years.
We are so grateful for each life that walks through our door, and are always humbled when God has allowed us to love on an individual. Ultimately, these children are God’s children and we trust in His sovereignty first and foremost. If you have remaining questions pertaining to the resettlement process, reach out to us! We’d love to further the conversation!