In each Family Group Home, the children are cared for day in and day out by their loving house parents, bolstered by a team of expert professionals and dedicated volunteers. The support team includes a social worker, a psychologist, two National Service Volunteers, an academic tutor, and a counselor. Our holistic, self-strengthening model of care ensures every aspect of the children's development is nurtured, while protecting the house parents from feeling burnt out. Everyone working at the home is devoted to empowering the children to recover from their past traumas, and realize their full potential.
Most of our homes are run by two house parents. These are married couples who live in the home with their own biological children, while taking on the role of parent and mentor for the Orr Shalom children in their care.
The house parents wake the children in the morning, make sure they are ready for school, welcome them home each afternoon, give them meals, support them in their daily needs, and give them constant emotional support. They are there for the children 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In short, the house parents are the most important people in the children's lives.
The children go about their daily lives in the Family Group Homes like they would in a normal family home. They attend school, participate in enrichment activities, and visit their friends. But they also get to experience – often for the first time – a proper family life, one in which they are given love, care, and devotion.
Psychologists & Social Workers
Our children, who have suffered physical and verbal abuse, rape and sexual abuse, severe neglect, and other tragedies, come to our psychologists and social workers in an extremely vulnerable and fragile state. These professionals have the difficult task of identifying and drawing out the core of our childrens' personal traumas and ongoing struggles, working to heal their deep emotional scars and striving to continually build them up them.
As every child in our care has his or her own unique history experience and circumstances, the psychologist and social worker consult with the house parents and staff to create an individualized therapeutic program for each child. They then help the children understand and eventually overcome the impact of abuse, neglect, loss and separation, discover and foster their own strengths and self-esteem, and build enduring connections with others.
In their weekly meetings with each of the children, the psychologists and/or social workers strive to rehabilitate each child's whole psychological and emotional world, provide them with therapy and tools that further their capacity to overcome the abuse they have suffered, and help them develop the healthy self-image necessary to creating brighter futures for themselves.
Where possible, our social workers also facilitate rehabilitation sessions between our children and their biological parents, who have often also been victims of abuse and neglect themselves. Developing healthy relationships with their biological parents can be a crucial component in the healing process for our children, repairing these fragile relationships and addressing taboo subjects.
Throughout the year, supervisors monitor the therapeutic program for each child, and continue to develop an accurate response to issues and behaviors that arise.
National Service Volunteers
Every day, our National Service Volunteers come ready to give all of themselves to the children in the Family Group Homes. They arrive at approximately 2pm and remain until 10pm each night, making meals for the children, picking them up from school, and taking them to their extracurricular activities, doctors and dentists appointments, to buy new clothes or run other errands, and to meet with their biological parents each week, where possible. These volunteers dedicate their time, love, and dedication to seeing to the childrens' every need. Their assistance is tremendous and indispensible to the house parents and extended staff, and they often become both positive role models and much-loved "big sisters" to the children in the home.
In order to help each child close the educational gaps and achieve their potential, we place a great emphasis on educational intervention. The program includes academic tutors who come into the homes to give each child one to two hours a week of individualized tutoring to build key skills and confidence. The counselors and national service girls in each home also work with the children every day to review what they learnt in school and make sure they understood it, ensure they do their homework and help where necessary and also prepare them for tests. The staff also seeks out and nurtures educational and vocational opportunities for our adolescent boys and girls through part-time jobs and career counseling, guiding them in the realization that achievement in their academics and in their work lives will help them attain independence and success.
One afternoon a week, a counselor ("madrich") comes to each Family Group Home and takes over the running of the house, giving the house parents a much-needed respite. He or she helps cook dinner for the children, plans group activities for them, assists them with their homework or lends a helping hand with any problems they may have, and serves as another positive role model in their lives.