Host care (integration of a child into a family)
A practical example of a functional family is, for children living in institutional care, the best form of help for preparing them for their inclusion in life outside the children’s home. The idea of host care is one of the ways of helping children who have a very low chance of finding a substitute family.
Children growing up in institutional education suffer the most from the fact that their needs are not fulfilled. To “Have someone of my own”, to be accepted as they are, to have individual care and concern. Creating emotional ties is the most important and prized result of caring for a child. Every positive relationship that a person makes during their lives is for them important and significant for their idea of self. Children growing up in a children’s home often have very damaged souls, are untrusting and have very low self-confidence.
It is known from experience that children growing up in long-term institutional care tend to fail in their partnerships and in their parental roles substantially more often than children with good emotional backgrounds.
Children have the human longing to belong to someone and, on the premise that it isn’t possible to grow up in a family, this longing can be partially fulfilled by host care, which includes visits, weekends later on, and, in some cases, holidays with the child’s host family.
The aim of these visits is to give children from a children’s home a chance to get to know the way a normal functional family works; to join in, at least for a short while, in the life of these families with stable emotional relationships, and experience standard relationships and ways of communication within a family, between partners and between parents and children. Notwithstanding that the children’s homes try very hard, they cannot fulfill these needs.
Another important purpose of host care is the possibility of experiencing success (on visits, I am more well-behaved than at other times) and therefore supporting motivation towards positive behaviour.
All the above-mentioned points can significantly help children with their psychological and social development.
Host care is not a form of substitute family care, it is run by different rules and conditions. The aim is similar to foster care, that is to find the child a stable background – but here the child does not stay permanently, yet can spend holidays here and weekends and can share his troubles and joys. A certain part of host care can cross over into foster care, which is clearly beneficial since it is a child who would otherwise be unable to obtain contact with a family – nevertheless, this is not the main aim of host care. Another huge benefit for the child (where there is long-term host care) is that on the departure of the child from the children’s home it changes into the accompanying of the young person in his life.
On leaving the institution, the young people often fail and make mistakes and at this difficult time - when they have no trust in any institutions, they miss having a close person around them – someone who would advise, help and support them and not leave them to deal with everything alone.
Host care is advantageous to children who are capable of accepting and understanding it. It should be available to every child who wants this care and does not have a big chance of returning to his own family, nor of finding a substitute family. We are mainly talking about children of an older school age (above 10 years), children from a large sibling group or children from an ethnic minority group. Host care can be realized in the cases of children who are in a children’s home without siblings; for those where there are more siblings together (e.g. 2 or 3), but often for only one of the siblings. Because of the fact that every child from the group of siblings goes to a different family, it ensures that each child has the necessary feelings of individuality, individual care, and a break from each other. Sibling ties, however, are not broken as the children are, for most of the time, still together in the children’s home.
Suitable applicants for host care are people with no criminal record, no financial problems, who went through the approved authorities and who want to help children from a children’s home by their long-term interest in them. It is important that it would be people who openly want to obtain wonderful experiences and who would relish getting to know and learn about children from children’s homes, and even about themselves.
Basic information about host care:
Host care is, for the hosts themselves, very challenging, mostly in relation to the time involved, but also with regard to all the journeys to and from the home with the child; communications with the authorities, the parents of the child etc.; in energy, and also financially (mainly the cost of travel to and from the children’s home and for sojourns with the host). Host care, however, brings new experiences - the awareness of experiencing important values; the feeling that we can really help somebody and also experience change in oneself (the words of a host carer).
In the case of host care, the interested party should not make a rash decision!
It concerns a serious decision, which should be very well thought through beforehand by all the members of the existing family.
It is necessary to understand that parties interested in host care must go through often unpleasant negotiations with the authorities.
Even though we are only talking about children visiting families, it affects, to a certain extent, the way the family works and mainly it can lead to the establishing of emotional ties with the child, so should therefore be taken as a long-term and recurring intention. If you are interested in becoming a host carer, contact us so that we can agree on the next steps.