It Takes a Village

The children run through the door as they return from afternoon classes — mind you eight of them. Some race to change clothes. Others want to crash on the sofa or chair just to disconnect a moment. Others want a snack — now!

Homework and chores await. But some have appointments with outside counselors or neurologists or dentists or orthodontists or nutritionists. All of these needs can keep the houseparents hopping in the afternoons, helping, managing, transporting, and even playing counselor as things from their day have been triggers to their trauma. It can easily get overwhelming. This is where the role of “tíos” or “tías” comes in.

“Tío”/“tia” is uncle or aunt in Spanish. As we transitioned to a family model years ago, the young adults who helped inside the home in the afternoons began to be called “aunts” and “uncles.” There help is essential to keep the homes functioning in order to meet the individual needs of the children living in the home.

The role of our tias/tíos is to come alongside and support the houseparents, helping with homework, supervising chore time, planning afternoon activities, taking a child or children for a walk to calm down. They help to be able to deal with all of the overspill of emotions that come as the day ends. Our goal is to have one tío/tia in the house each day – so two tias/tíos are hired for each home, both helping to cover on the houseparent’s days off.

Our tíos/tias participate in bi-monthly trainings so that we can all do our job better. The job is essential to help support the houseparents and show the children healthy relationships.

We are currently looking for some new tias/tíos in our homes. Consider joining us if you live locally!