NPH staff travels from all over Latin America for integrated team training and professional development at the Family Services Workshop 2014 in Nicaragua.
Collaboration. Interdisciplinary teamwork. Renewed inspiration. Highest quality childcare possible. These were the primary themes of the NPH International Family Services Workshop that recently took place Nicaragua.
From September 24th to the 29th, teams from the NPH homes in eight different countries stayed at ‘Casa Padre Wasson’, the principal NPH home in Nicaragua approximately 30 miles south from the capital city of Managua. Two to thirteen team members represented each country and worked in the areas of child caregiving, psychology and social work.
Casa Padre Wasson is named after the NPH founder Father Wasson, who dedicated his life to making a home and opportunities for orphaned, abandoned kids a reality. Sixty years after founding the first home in Mexico and eight years after Father Wasson passed on to rest, child-care professionals in nine different countries dedicate their lives to continuing what he began. The Family Services workshop united these professionals so that they could reflect on their childcare practices as a team and share new ideas to bring back to their home countries.
Gerson Carrasco, a Social Worker in our Honduras home who attended the workshop comments on the value of teamwork when working with individual children, “Collaboration is of utmost importance. The contributions from each one of us in our different areas of work complement each other, which results in an integral form of attention to the kids in our family.”
One main goal of the workshop was to facilitate team collaboration both within each NPH home and among the various countries present during the week. The teams presented programs from their childcare, psychology and social work departments, and also met in small, ‘job-alike’ groups from the other countries. This created a platform for the teams across NPH homes to share ideas and learn best practices from each other.
The ‘Comité de Apoyo’, or Multidisciplinary Team (‘MDT’), is the strategic problem solving committee in each of our homes. Participants received extra practice in developing an integrated approach to solve difficult cases in their homes. The workshop participants role-played a typical situation the MDT Committee may encounter. Two employees put themselves in the role of two children or adolescents in challenging circumstances, and their team members from multiple departments discussed each case and developed a strategic solution to support the youth.
Other explored themes during the workshop included NPH International childcare policies, the process for welcoming children and assisting them as they adapt to life in the home, and understanding the different phases of child development while implementing positive reinforcement at each stage. Each country team returned home with updated, more defined “Core Programs”, those programs that are essential for the positive development and care for our children and youth. The participants and Family Service team also worked with the theme of trauma, learning new ideas to support and work with our children that have suffered trauma in their lives before arriving at NPH. Spirituality was integrated each day through morning prayer, reflection, and by encouraging the staff to prioritize the spiritual formation of the NPH family as an integral part of their daily work.
Special guests at the workshop include Reinhart Koehler, the NPH International Board Chair, and Miguel Venegas, the Executive Director, along with Marlon Velázquez, the National Director of NPH Nicaragua and NPHI Family Service Consultant, Fr. Reynaldo Galindo, Chaplain of NPH – Honduras. Their keynote talks set the tone for the workshop and helped provide perspective on how the work of each child-care professional fits together and carries out the NPH mission of caring for the children.
Markus Streit, the Assistant Director of Family Services who has been involved with NPH since 2003 and facilitates multiple NPH trainings each year, lists just a few benefits of gathering with staff from each of the NPH homes for an in-person workshop such as the one in Nicaragua:
“The exchange of experiences among people in the same work area from other countries helps them to see that they face similar challenges, and together they can develop creative ideas. The teams are motivated to try something new in their own workplace. In addition, all staff has the opportunity to experience the spirit of the extended family of NPH, and refresh the motivation and inspiration to do their daily work.”
Donna Egge, the Family Services Director echoes the importance of the workshop benefits Markus described, and explains her personal takeaways from this particular week in Nicaragua,
“There is no replacement for inspiration, motivation and sharing when it comes to the hard work we do, day in and day out of caring for our children, and youth. Bringing good people together, validating their work and their individuality, their creativity, honors the work they are doing and appreciates in a big way, their professionalism that they bring each and every day to the mission of NPH. These benefits were certainly seen during the Family Services workshop week.”
On the last night, the Family Services workshop participants celebrated a week well done and spent time in community together. These child care professionals have at least one thing in common: they are dedicated to our mission of continuing Father Wasson’s work and caring for his children.
While reflecting on the week with the group, Donna shared, “I know that Father Wasson is looking down from above, and he is able to know deeply that his children and his legacy are in good hands.”
“No hay tal cosa com un nino mal, sino que puede comportarse mal porque se siente abandonado y solo.”
“There is no such thing as a bad child, only one that behaves badly because they feel abandoned and alone.”
~Father Wasson, founder of NPH
Love & Security – Responsibility – Sharing –Work – Faith & Service