“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on Earth. For what they believe is what they’ll become.”- Brook Hampton
The Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) Caraga, a Residential Care Facility of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office Caraga, located in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur is continuing to provide a holistic approach in the rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law (CICL).
RRCY Caraga, currently housing 41 residents, is the rehabilitation center for male Caraganon CICLs. The center is not a jail for minors; hence, it is their safe haven to become the better version of themselves, through rehabilitation process, before being integrated back to the community.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the term Children In Conflict with the Law (CICL) refers to anyone under 18 years old who comes into contact with the justice system as a result of being suspected or accused of committing offence. Most CICLs have committed petty crimes or such minor offences as vagrancy, truancy, begging, or alcohol use. Some of these are known as “status offenses” and are not considered criminal when committed by adults. In addition, some children who engage in criminal behavior have been used or coerced by adults. Too often, prejudice related to race, ethnicity or social and economic status may bring a child into conflict with the law even when no crime has been committed.
The Agency as the Department of the government that focuses on the social welfare and development of the Filipino people, is making sure to cater all the needs of the vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the society. The protection and assurance of excellent quality of life is also listed as one of the top priorities of the Agency. To combat the issues related to the plight of the CICLs, the government mandated the DSWD to come up with a program and services that provides alternative family care arrangements to the these CICLs.
One of the legal basis of the said program and services of the Agency is the Republic Act 5416, Providing for Comprehensive Social Service for Individuals and Groups in Need of Assistance, the Department shall set standards and policies to insure effective implementation of public and private social welfare programs, and accredit institutions and organizations, public and private, engaged in social welfare activity including the licensing of child caring and child placement institutions and provide consultative services thereto.
In the Child Protection Sheet: Children In Conflict with the Law of UNICEF, there were eight points in building a protective environment for children, and the following are as follows:
Government commitment and capacity
RRCY Caraga, credited as a Level II residential rehabilitation center, follows the general standards that serve as guide for policy and program planning. The center has (a) administration and organization that indicates the desired outcomes for its residents and programs and services that is in line with the Agency’s vision, mission, and goals (VMG), (b) program management wherein projects and activities are responsive to the needs of the residents, appropriate resources are allocated and utilized efficiently towards attaining the Agency’s VMG as well as in improving the total well-being of the residents, (c) case management handled by social workers who are responsible for social work methods, innovative strategies/approaches and processes in accordance with the assessment of their problems and written treatment plan and this also includes the systematic documentation of the helping process as basis for determining appropriate interventions and their effects on the residents being cared for, (d) helping strategies/interventions is the provision of any or a combination of services/interventions done by the social worker taking into the consideration the age, gender, nature of the case and the physical and intellectual attributes of the residents, and (e) physical structures and safety -physical facilities shall be kept in good condition and designed in such a way that will promote the physical, cultural, emotional and psycho-social well-being of the residents and staff.
Legislation and enforcement
DSWD FO Caraga, as the lead agency of the Regional Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking- Violence Against Women and their Children (RIACAT-VAWC) and Regional Committee for the Welfare of the Children (RCWC), has the right partners in combating human trafficking specifically with minors. It is an active committee that focuses on saving the children that are victims of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC), abuse, rape, and other types of exploitation, and crime.
Attitudes, customs and practices
Though the CICLs may be portrayed as wicked or threatening, RRCY Caraga has several methods that teach the children how to divert negative energy into a positivity. One of its activities conducted by the RRCY staff is Attitude of Gratitude seminar held last June 30, 2020 wherein the lecturer discussed about the benefits of showing gratitude. The activity taught the residents the importance of being grateful in all the circumstances they’ve encountered.
CICLs are known to have a stressful life due to the challenges that they’ve encountered. Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. RRCY Caraga generated a Stress Management activity on May 20, 2020 to help the residents cope with their stress especially in this time of pandemic.
Children’s life skills, knowledge and participation
RRCY Caraga is active when it comes to honing the skills of the residents. The center has daily Alternative Learning System (ALS) classes and sessions both for elementary and high school level facilitated by the center’s ALS facilitator. Some of the activities are gardening, welding, and other basic life skills to help them prepare for their future reintegration to the community and their family.
Capacity of families and communities
RRCY Caraga has scheduled visitation for its residents. This is a special time for the residents wherein they are given free time to bond with their families inside the facility. This is also part of the program and services of the center for the complete recovery of the residents.
Essential services, including for prevention, recovery and reintegration
RRCY Caraga has its own clinic with a registered nurse and a psychometrician to check the health of the residents. The center also partnered with different agencies to help and prepare the physical, emotional, and mental health of the residents for their recovery and reintegration. The services are patterned to the Agency’s VGM that aims to achieve rehabilitation and avoid repeat offenses by the residents.
Monitoring, reporting and oversight
RRCY Caraga’s staff are all well-trained in monitoring the residents by making case studies, documentation of the status of the residents whether they are ready for reintegration or still needs improvement and guidance. RRCY Caraga, is now aiming for a Level III Accreditation to upgrade for a better quality of facilities and services.
DSWD FO Caraga encourages everyone to extend their kalinga at pagmamahal to the children especially those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable, and poor to help them become a better person – veering them away from taking the wrong path. “It takes a village to raise a child” and it’s everyone’s duty as part of the community to help in nurturing the youth, for the youth is the hope of the future.###