What children in Latin America are facing
Extreme poverty, abandonment, violence and abuse force children away from their homes and into the streets. Many are left with no other choice but to flee their own countries in pursuit of safety.
These forgotten homeless children are in extreme risk of exploitation for sexual and commercial purposes. Kids as young as eight find themselves forced into gang violence or the sex industry, with little hope of escape.
That's where Casa Alianza comes in
Since 1981, our Casa Alianza (Spanish for Covenant House) programs have been providing shelter, protection and rehabilitation for children and teenagers in Latin America who are abused, abandoned, trafficked, addicted or left to the streets.
Our team is a group of internationally recognized experts in children's human rights – passing critical legislation to establish and enforce policies that protect kids and punish traffickers.
The vulnerable children and teens that we serve are always our priority. In the face of poverty, neglect and violence, we make it our mission to offer every homeless child the absolute respect and unconditional love they deserve.
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Who we serve
- Abused, abandoned and neglected boys and girls between 12 and 18 years of age
- Youth addicted to harmful substances
- Children and teenagers living with HIV/AIDS
- Victims of commercial sexual and labor exploitation
- Victims of human trafficking
- Pregnant teens and teen moms and their babies
- Unaccompanied migrant youth fleeing the violence and poverty of their countries
- Youth referred by government authorities
In situations of emergency, Casa Alianza cares for any child or teenager, regardless of age, until that child can be safely transferred to a center that can address their specific needs.
Our core youth programs
Our Casa Alianza programs are unique, offering an open door to children in crisis 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We've developed a dynamic model – our Continuum of Care – that includes Crisis Care as well as all the long-term counseling, tools and support children need to create new lives – free of violence and poverty.
Each of our Latin American Outreach programs identify at-risk children living in some of the poorest, most dangerous areas imaginable: garbage dumps, highways, makeshift cardboard houses, etc. Our teams build relationships and work to transition these kids from life on the streets to life at Casa Alianza.
Pre-Community provides a critical bridge from the streets for homeless children. They can come to Casa Alianza and receive immediate-need services, including hot meals, clothing, counseling and workshops on trafficking.
All of our sites have at least one residential center, with our doors open to children in need 24/7. The goal of these services is to help every child overcome their crisis, achieve emotional and physical stability, and return to the world to achieve their dreams.
Our centers operate a three-level approach to provide maximum care and support:
- Level 1: Integration/stabilization
Children and teens who come in directly from the streets need urgent support and care – and a space where they will be protected, loved, listened to and respected.
- Level 2: Recognition and development of strengths
Children and teens are given the tools to recognize and develop individual skills and knowledge. One of the most fundamental aspects of this level is initiating or reintegrating them into the formal education system.
- Level 3: Consolidating strengths and preparation for reintegration to society
Children and teens secure the necessary skills to be safely and sustainably reintegrated into life outside of the residence – whether with their families or by living independently.
Family reintegration and support
We establish contact with families whenever possible, and work with both the children and families toward reintegration. If reintegration within the family is not possible, the child or teen stays at Casa Alianza to work on their long-term plan.
Independent life program
We work to ensure that young adults leaving Casa Alianza have the necessary tools, education, training and employment to live independently. Our staff assists youth in finding long-term housing and offers support with budgeting, job retention skills and beyond.
A multi-disciplinary approach
In order to provide comprehensive care for children and teens with multiple challenges and problems, Casa Alianza Latin America has developed a dynamic model of holistic care with professional teams providing physical, emotional, social and spiritual support to our youth. This multi-disciplinary approach of Casa Alianza forms the basis for all of our work and includes the following components:
- Front-line staff support: Each child is assigned a staff member who becomes their counselor and who is with the young person at all times, providing general care and the consistent support they need.
- Medical program: Professional medical staff, including doctors and nurses, provide medical care, support and counseling for all children and teenagers, including pediatric care for babies.
- Psychological support: Specialized psychologists and psychiatrists support the emotional recovery and development of the young people, provide group and individual therapy and offer various workshops to help residents heal.
- Social work: Professional social workers manage and monitor the process of integrating children and teens into formal education, vocational training courses and employment and reintegrating them into their families where advisable.
- Addiction services: Specialists help kids recover and free themselves from addiction to harmful substances, mainly through individual and group therapy and counseling.
- Sexuality and HIV/AIDS: Staff provide education and awareness courses regarding sexuality and sexual health, as well as support and counseling for any children suffering from HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections.
- Spiritual support: Each child is supported in their religion of choice if they so desire, and no child is ever made to participate in any activity that is not in keeping with their own religious affiliation or preference.
- Arts, culture, recreation and sports: Trained staff provide a program of healthy activities for our young people, including sports leagues, theater trips, birthday parties, trips to other parts of the country and classes in music, dance and art.
- Alternative therapies: It is our experience that alternative therapies, along with traditional therapies, can be very effective in healing from trauma. Professionals offer therapies such as yoga, meditation and art and music therapy.