Sunday, September 19, 2021

Special report: A temporary home for the abandoned, lost

A SAFE and secure environment is a privilege that every child should enjoy, and Davao City Government has laid down a well-oiled mechanism to ensure that children will be assisted well. They do this through Davao City Social Services and Development Office-Quick Response Team for Children’s Concern (CSSDO-QRTCC).

Jade, a 10-year-old girl, had been staying at the QRTCC facility for a couple of days now she said that at the center her only job is to take care of herself, her clothing and also do some household chores like watering the plants and mopping the floor.

She said that every afternoon she and her friends will play outside, while some children sleep because they have nothing to do. “I do not grow sleepy during afternoons,” she said, adding that they'd just tumble around or just laugh instead of sleeping.

Jade said her stay at the center started when she was turned over by the barangay officials.

Before that, she had been staying at the house of a Purok Leader at Purok 4, Riverside who treated her like family. Her father died and her mother married off with someone else.

She said that she had grown fond of the family which kept her but since she cannot be adopted without her mother’s consent and her guardian may be filed with charges for keeping her.

There was no option but to place her in the shelter until her mother will show up again. She said that sometimes she misses her mother, whom she had not met for five years, but what she misses more is the family of the purok leader especially the family’s only daughter whom she is very fond of. She said that her “ate” is now studying in college at Holy Cross. She hopes that she can see her mother again.

Jade is among those children who were referred to the center through barangay referral.

According to the center head Juenalyn Pablo referral, are among the ways they can assist children at their office. She said that in referral, the community pulls out the child and surrenders it to the government.

“Once they get here, we will subject them for medical check-up, given them food and we will also locate their parents,” she said. She added that QRTCC assists children through two other means such as receiving reports for validation and through rescue and surveillance. She said that once they receive reports, they validate the report in the community. They will first check if the child is visibly healthy.

“Once we see that the child is not healthy, malnourished, and are in a non-healthy environment, with their parents absent, we will immediately pull out the child,” she said.

“Naa mi anang mga cases na nag stand nga severe malnourished ang bata and naaktuhan jud na nagsugal ang parent, ang anak naa ra didto naghigda sa ilang sariling mga hugaw (We have cases where the child is severely malnourished while the parents were caught in the act of gambling. The child was left along lying in his own crap),” she said.

Pablo said that just last January 30, 2018, they rescued a one year and five months-old baby neglected by the mother. “Gi-ulod na ang bata kay pila na siyaka days sa duyan, nagdulog na siya sa iyang tae, gibiyaan siya sa iyang mama, iyang mama kay commercial sex worker (We rescued a child yesterday who was abandoned in a hammock that already had worms because the child was left for days without having a diaper change. His mother was a prostituted woman),” she said.

Pablo said that Kean Gabriel Hotline for physically abused children established in 2016 is very helpful on the task of QRTCC since through this hotline may people report to them neglected children in the community.

She said that they refer to these children as “neglected children” since the term “abandonment” will have to be proven only at the court with enough evidence.

“For neglected children what we usually do is to file a case against the parent of the rescued child. (The grounds) would be neglect on the terms of basic needs, and not including the emotional needs and guidance,” she said.

Pablo said that social workers at QRTCC conduct case management per child. Once a child is pulled out or referred they will be given basic needs, such as food, they will also make sure that the child can avail vaccines, such as measles vaccines. They will also check papers, if the child has birth certificate.

“We will also ask parents on their decision whether to adopt or surrender the children, we will also ask why they ended up in the situation affecting their children, and if there are legalities involved, we will also check if the parents are liable and the child will be asked for an affidavit and the social worker will stand as complainant,” she said.

She also said that the process of case takes time, but it has to be finished first before that children can be turned over to appropriate centers fit for them.

“Finishing even once case entails a lot of work, what we can immediately do after pull out is to provide food for the child, because most of them are hungry and make sure that infants will be fed with milk. Older children will be cleaned up and will be treated if they have wounds,” she said. “You have to comply with the basic requirements of the centers, they will receive children but only if it appropriately followed the policy, we work double time here,” she said.

Pablo said that they allow the children to temporarily stay at their center. But they cannot cater infants or the sickly. The center can only attend to children old enough to take care of themselves.

She said that they have girl’s quarters at the second floor of their building, while the boys will stay at Paginhawaan Drop In-Center at the back of the QRTCC office. “It will be temporary, it will be a place where they can recover and they can sleep soundly, they do not need to worry since they are provided with food,” she said.

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