Mi Familia: Engaging Colombian Families and Communities to Prevent Child Abuse

Mi Familia: Engaging Colombian Families and Communities to Prevent Child Abuse

In Colombia, more than 85,000 children and adolescents were mistreated, abused, or neglected in 2018, according to the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF). Of these, thirty percent are separated from their families, living with others or on the streets, because their families lack the resources and conditions to properly take care of them. These conditions can create compromising scenarios for children and adolescents and leave them at greater risk of facing criminal charges.

To strengthen violence prevention tools and improve the wellbeing of children, ICBF – working in partnership with the US Agency for International Development’s HRH2030 program – began in 2018 to redesign the services offered by ICBF’s Family and Communities Directorate. The redesign included the development of Mi Familia (My Family), a psychosocial assistance program aimed at strengthening parenting capacities to prevent, reduce, and mitigate child abuse, mistreatment, and neglect.

Mi Familia emerges from the need for a single, comprehensive, national program to guide and coordinate ICBF’s assistance to an estimated 64,000 vulnerable families in Colombia each year; a number that is expected to grow to 285,000 by 2022. This program is designed to support families in home and in community group settings through a set of guidelines that advise parents on different issues, promote access to social services, and reinforce the importance of – and right to – wellbeing for children, adolescents, and their families.  

Since 2018, HRH2030 has supported ICBF in the creation of 13 technical guidelines to steer home visits and group meetings and has developed materials that ICBF professionals and implementors will use in the implementation of Mi Familia.

“Thanks to the support of the HRH2030 program we have had several work sessions supported by consultants that have allowed us to identify and analyze the challenges of implementation and coordination of Mi Familia,” says Kattya De Oro Geles, technical sub-director of the Families and Communities Directorate. “Without a doubt, the HRH2030 program has contributed to the effort to design and start implementing this program. We hope that they can continue to accompany us in actions that allow the development of professional competencies that will assist families and transcend challenges.”

Implementation of Mi Familia started in May 2020, adapted to provide telephone support services because of COVID-19. ICBF has postponed in-person roll-out of the program until January 2021.

Before Mi Familia, ICBF’s services were dispersed and problems were dealt with independently and on a case-by-case basis. But now, after the new methodology and knowledge that HRH2030 has shared, ICBF has a streamlined and thorough approach to assist families. With HRH2030’s continued support, both in the development and implementation phases of Mi Familia, ICBF will help build capacity among Colombia’s social service teams to better serve at-risk children, adolescents, and their families first-hand.

Photo: Participants review parenting guidelines in a Mi Familia training workshop organized by HRH2030, Maestral, and ICBF Families and Communities Directorate. By helping families apply parenting guidelines, HRH2030 Colombia aims to help reduce violence against children. Credit: HRH2030 Colombia.