Family is the word we like to use to describe how we work in La Casa. Our three homes, each directed by a set of houseparents, are the core of how we care for the children we serve. Children live in family units, bringing much needed stability and attention that each child needs to grow and heal. Supporting each home, we have staff that helps to ensure that the houseparents and children are trained and healthy to fulfill the roles they play. In our last blog, we talked about the “Tia’s” who help to give the children individual attention and manage the myriad of responsibilities that the houseparents have and allow our houseparents to have some time off. This week, we want to highlight the role of our counselors.

Whenever we are needing to interview for this position, we are looking for someone who has the ability to wear many “hats”. Our counselors are involved in many aspects of the ministry. They may be facilitating an individual therapy session, sitting in house meetings, talking with houseparents, planning and presenting trainings, creating fun activities where we all our staff can release a little stress, or in the truck headed out on a family visit.

First, they have the responsibility of continually supporting and training our houseparents so that they can fulfill the role of counselor 24/7. Indeed, our houseparents are the ones who serve on the frontlines day after day. They are the ones who are confronted with the initial conduct that needs to be responded to. If they know the best ways to respond, we’ve made incredible advances in being able to help each child grow and heal. We have chosen that we not only train our caregivers, but everyone on staff. We are all in positions where we have interaction with the children and need to understand trauma and how to respond when children are reacting out of that past. Our counselors plan yearly training and present a variety of topics to our staff every other Thursday.

Our counselors facilitate house meetings with the staff in each home weekly as well. This centers around looking at the health of the home and addressing issues that arise. It is a time to encourage one another and work as a team. It also a time when our counselors can get a read on the emotional health of each childcare giver. It’s everyone working together for the good of the children.

Our counselors meet at least monthly with each child for individual therapy time, more often if deemed necessary. When children come to us from difficult pasts, they have learned three skills in life to handle the trauma: Don’t feel, Don’t trust and Don’t talk. All three of these need to be reversed. Our counselors create and implement an individual therapeutic plan that helps address these and other issues that lead towards healthier inactions and move towards healing.

Our counselors accompany our social workers on home visits to biological family members homes to intentionally work with the family to bring about reconnection, restoration and reunification if at all possible. These visits can take them downtown, to a nearby town, clear across the country, across rivers or down long bumpy dirt roads.

Our counselors prepare reports for the government, keep files on all the children, and are a part of each supervisory visit made by the government.

They are here for our children, our staff, and for the families. They listen, they support and they train. And we are healthier because of them! Help us give a big shout out to our counselors!