“Home Time” Groups – Children who Remain 365 Days a Year
A Special Project Proposal
Background on Project:
The residential care program at the "Jerusalem Hills" Children's Home is based, amongst other things, on the need to address each child's situation in a personal and intensive manner. Thus, the holiday and summer “home time” and weekends do not fully overlap the vacation schedules implemented in most residential facilities. Here, the children can go home for major holidays three times a year (Succoth, Chanukkah and Passover), with an additional three weekends annually (from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning). The school operates through the month of July, followed by a two-week summer camp program, leaving about three weeks for summer “home time” away from the campus.
Altogether, the children have about 40 days per year to spend in family frameworks (be it with parents, relatives, host families, foster families). Yet, the Children's Home continues to operate 365 days a year to address the needs of those children who have no home to go to during holidays and “home time”.
These are children whose family situation is too destructive or threatening (there is no care giving parent; a parent may be in a mental institution or in jail; there is grounds to suspect the child may be in physical danger due to violence and extreme neglect). In order to ensure the child's safety, the Home operates a "Home Time Group" and invests a lot of thought and effort in order to create for them an embracing and supportive experience, as they watch their peers going for “home time”.
In the past decade, we have been seeing a growing number of children who cannot go home for “home time”. Whereas fifteen years ago we kept one or two counselors to remain with the 4 or 5 children whose situation was too difficult to allow their going home, today we are consistently faced with a group numbering 25-30 boys and girls. What do we hope to gain via this program? Every single child who comes under the care of the JHTC is a deeply wounded child who, together with his professional caretakers, is struggling to rehabilitate his life.
Each of these children should be able to believe and feel that he or she is deserving of a place in our society and that the world is there for them too. At the Children's Home, the staff works closely with each child to help restore his faith in himself and in others. A child who on the eve of a holiday must remain on campus, because there is no one who can take him in and offer love and security, is a child whose sadness never leaves his eyes.
For us, it is essential to create for these children a warm, embracing, positive milieu that will see them through the hard times, as their peers leave for home. As a non-profit the JHTC's operational budget is supported mainly by government ministries who provide about 83% of its annual budget. The JHTC has to raise the balance each year. The cost of keeping the Children's Home operational 365 days a year is an integral part of the budget, yet is unique in that it specifically addresses only a part of the Home's population and is not included in government funding.