St. Dominic's Children's Home.

Providing a home away from home for children and youth at risk

St. Dominic's Children's Home

Home is where you are truly safe (Nouwen). 

MISSION STATEMENT

 To promote the healing and development of children and youth who have experienced trauma and loss and facilitate their earliest possible reintegration into a caring family system.

VISION STATEMENT

Small, family-style households where skilled and committed caregivers nurture and guide the children and young people in their care, providing them with the safety, security, stability and support they need to resolve their trauma/loss issues and fully develop their human potential.

 

HISTORY

FOR 140 YEARS

“Whoever receives one such little child for My sake, receives Me.” 

Fr. Mariano Forestier O.P founded the St. Dominic's Children's Home - known, back then, as the Belmont Orphanage - to provide a home for the many poor, homeless children wandering the streets of the city of Port of Spain. Mr. L.A. Le Roy, a benefactor, bought the property on which the Home stands and gave it to the goodly priest to carry out his mission. On 11th September, 1871 Archbishop Gonin officially blessed the Home.

In 1876, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena accepted Fr. Forestier's invitation to take responsibility for managing and operating the Home - a mission  which they still carry on today in collboration with a number of lay-persons: staff and voluntary; individuals and corporate bodies, from governmental agencies and private sector; men and women of goodwill who understand that it does 'take a village to raise a child (African Proverb)'.

                    

           A House named “NAZARETH” was built for the younger boys.

From its earliest years onto the 1970s, the Home used the traditional dormitory-style model of housing (as many as 40-60 children in a dormitory) and managing the practical care of the children.  In 1971, to mark the centenary of the founding of the Home, a new house was constructed off the Belmont campus at Malick, Barataria. This family unit, Sunny Homestead, was to house sibling families - between 12 to 15 children in total. In 1983, an additional family unit was built in Calvary Hill, Arima, while in Belmont itself, two (2) departments were converted into family units a couple of years later.

In 1980, in order to provide workers with a proper remuneration package, the Home was made subject to the provisions of the Statutory Authorities Act of 1966. This meant that all matters relating to staffing at the organization were now under the purview of the Statutory Authorities. 

A number of buildings on the Belmont campus were gutted by fire In April 1996. Through the generous donations and support of private and corporate members of the wider community, however, the Home's Management was able to initiate and bring to fruition a number of building projects, turning the chaos and loss of the destructive fire into an opportunity to create, for the children, a living environment that was even more comfortable and appropriate to their needs.

Today, over fifteen years later, building projects continue apace - and not purely in terms of bricks and mortar.  The convergence of a number and range of forces - forces both internal and external to the organization - have 'nudged' us into what can be described as a 'transformative space'.  The rise of the Child Right's era, a new body of children's legislation;  the impact of modernity and other socio-economic and socio-political trends upon the family; a growing understanding of 'trauma and loss' as a central theme in the life-stories of children admitted to care - these are some of the major forces shaping the Home's transformation ... our most important building project.

 

St. Dominic´s Children´s Home from different perspectives 

THE POPULATION

Presently, St. Dominic´s is responsible for the care and supervision of about ninety (90) children and young people - inclusive of  young people in our Aftercare Programme and our young people enrolled in off-campus residential, vocational programmes.  Our children range in age from two (2) to eighteen (18) years.

With four (4) boys' houses and two (2) girls' houses on the Belmont campus, our capacity is sixty-two (62) residents.  At Sunnyhill we have a capacity of ten (10) and at Plainview our capacity is twelve (12) to fifteen (15) - depending on the composition as regards age and level of functioning.    

PROGRAMMES

The Aftercare Programme – Providing emotional support, financial/material assistance and referral services for children and young people, post-discharge; the Aftercare Worker aims to enable their successful transitioning from life within the institution, to semi-independent or inter-dependent living.

The Alternative Education Programme (AEP)– This AEP offers remedial academics for children whose learning needs require a less traditional learning environment and curriculum. 

Family Intervention Programme (FIP) -  At the Home we believe that children need permanency - children need family.  With this in mind, FIP promotes the earliest possible reintegration of children into the family system, providing a range of social work services and family interventions: parenting skills training, counselling - individual and family, referrals, and so on.

  • Parents in Partnership (PIP) - A peer support group for parents of children admitted to the Home.
  • Life Skills Programme – This programme was conceptualized as a means of enhancing the life skills of children within the institutional setting. Health, hygiene and self-care, nutrition, social and communication skills, sexuality, career guidance, money management - the gamut of 'learnings' which takes place within the family but which might not be consistently reinforced within the institutional setting - this is the focus.
  • The Transition Programme – A residential, life-skills training programme for residents fourteen years and over who are being prepared for semi-independent living. 
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