Child, Family, Community – the CCF approach to keeping families and communities together

6.8.2014.Photo3_The key to the success of CCF’s model lies in our commitment to keeping families together.

By ensuring that our 2,000 young leaders are active in family and community life, we are creating smart, passionate young people who will create lasting generational change in Cambodia.

We work with children and families from impoverished and desperate conditions, but keeping family ties strong is at the heart of what we do.

Out of the 2,028 children enrolled in CCF’s education programs, more than two thirds (1,412 students) live at home and return to their families at the end of every day.

Less than one-third of our students (612 students) reside at CCF – and nearly half of these children return to their homes at least once a week.

CCF spends significant amounts ensuring families stay together – whether it is by providing travel for children, or by assisting with employment for parents and grandmothers so they can remain near their children. We have partnered with World Housing to build homes for families in Steung Meanchey – as many as 30 homes each month – so that families can stay together in safe and secure homes.

Our approach is working – more than 99% of children remain in contact with their families or extended families.

CCF’s residential education programs are similar to boarding schools. The children that do reside at CCF facilities remain in close contact with their families.

Our approach is working – more than 99% of children remain in contact with their families or extended families.

MOVING THE MASSES

CCF transports 1,700 children to and from school everyday – a major undertaking, but nothing compared to what happens at vacation time.

Each year CCF spends a lot of money – more than any other organisation we know of – transporting children and families back to their provinces (homelands) for the two major Cambodian holidays Pchum Ben and Khmer New Year.

We fill buses, trucks and vans with children eager to get away from the city and spend time with family and friends. It’s a complex and costly logistical exercise – but somehow our staff get it done. Hundreds of children are prepared and packed up, countless phone calls are placed to parents to confirm the arrival of children, and students are provided with bags of rice and some spending money to bring back home. On the road, a CCF staff member is on each vehicle to help the young travellers.

For the few kids with nowhere to go at holiday time, a special schedule of activities and outings are planned in Phnom Penh and the surrounding countryside.

We also pay to transport parents to CCF if there has been a long period where they have not seen their child/children, or in case of emergency.

6.8.2014.Photo2_SUPPORTING FAMILIES

CCF operates under the idea that you can’t expect a child to succeed without the support of the family. Unless you can lift up the whole family, then it is a very isolated and limited success.

The parents of these children aren’t bad people – they are just people in desperate circumstances.

A large percentage of CCF’s expenses goes towards families. We believe a mother should not have to choose between food on the table or sending a child to school. Therefore we provide extensive community service, including subsidised rice, free medical care, clean water, counseling, maternal care, a child protection unit and emergency assistance, so that a child can go to school and the rest of the family doesn’t suffer because of it.

When CCF started in 2004, we focused on 47 children who were living and working on the Steung Meanchey garbage dump. The growth in our reach has been amazing – and certainly challenging for the organisation and its staff.

While we strongly believe that access to education is a fundamental right for all children, that doesn’t mean everyone can study with us.

We have a waiting list of children whose family would like to enroll them in CCF’s Education Program – but only around 9% of applicants are accepted.

When we are made aware that children are living in particularly dire circumstances, our community outreach team will visit the family. Before a child is accepted into the program, CCF staff interview the child and the family – checking things like background, health conditions, living conditions, parents employment, and a range of other factors. Our community outreach staff verify this information with neighbours and community members that know the family. We do not make the decision to accept a child into our program lightly.

CCF often has children from provinces outside Phnom Penh applying to enrol in our education program. If our team establish that these children are unable to attend school due to poverty, and they are not living in high-risk situations, they are given support from our Education Assistance Package (EAP).

The children are returned to the province, and the family provided with a monthly stipend and rice allocation, provided that the children attend the local public school (CCF staff recieve the attendance records for EAP students). A number of children who have been assisted by the EAP have graduated from high school and gone on to university. There are currently 103 students receiving support from the EAP.

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THE END GOAL

Every student in our education system has the promise of attending university, funded through CCF. So far, every student that has sat year 12 final exams has passed and moved on to university.

For those students who drop-out of university, or who decide that university study isn’t for them, CCF operates vocational training programs to ensure they reach their full potential. Aside from our education program, CCF’s focus on leadership and social activities develops young adults who are connected to their communities and who have strong leadership skills. Our career counselors help students define their career path, organise internships and assist students look for jobs.

When a child graduates from CCF, they enter society as young leaders with the world at their feet – a university education and workplace experience, a strong network of support and a real connection to family and community.

Photo captions:

Happy kids in a happy home. A partnership between World Housing and CCF is providing safe and secure housing to many families in Steung Meanchey. Soon World Housing will be producing 30 houses a month from its Phnom Penh housing workshop for CCF families.

A CCF Junior Leadership student on a regular visit to a grandmother in the Steung Meanchey community.

 

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