Lessons from shelter homes that help children in especially difficult circumstances: case studies in northern Mexico
This paper examines issues surrounding shelters (Casas Hogares) that help Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances (CEDC). The literature states that there is a need to "systematically document and learn more from the current efforts in helping children in order to improve program effectiveness at both the country and regional levels" (UNICEF, 1990). This research addresses the aforementioned concern and provides information on what can be learned from the children that live in these shelters, how these shelters function, and what can be learned by studying the experience of these shelters. The investigation was conducted at two shelter homes that help CEDC in a border town in Mexico's north. Interviews and participant observation techniques were used. A total of eighteen staff members were interviewed, and information for over 100 children was acquired. The information on the children was obtained through interviews as well as by asking staff members about the child's particular case. Documenting the routines and the experiences of these shelters, provides valuable lessons that can be taken into consideration for those who wish to work with CEDC. Amongst some of the issues that arose in this study were reasons why children arrive at the shelter home, as well as some of the challenges these organizations face; for example, when dealing with donors and when trying to obtain funds.