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San Antonio child welfare organization creates a sense of home to aspire to

Children Matter gives families 'safe spaces' as they work towards reunification or adoption

SAN ANTONIO — The core values of the San Antonio child welfare organization Children Matter are protecting children, rebuilding families and empowering caregivers. 

The organization's Family Life Center offers families safe spaces during visitation as they work toward reunification, and in some cases adoption. The vast majority of kids in the child welfare system have suffered trauma, according to federal reports, which is where Children Matter comes in: They put the welfare of children first and foremost. 

"It is home," Children Matter Executive Director Cynthia McGee says about her organizations. "We have kids that run in and say, 'Mom, I'm home.' Other visitations centers, as wonderful as they are, sometimes don't have that homey feel. When they come here and we are simulating what a home should feel like, it is also helping the parents learn that this is the peaceful atmosphere that they are supposed to provide."

And when it comes to the Children Matter Family Life Center, it's made to feel like a home, one with a full kitchen and living room.

They also offer hands-on training down to what the family dinner gathering should look like; those small things can make all the difference in family units working to create health environments. 

"Lots of our parents have come from foster placements themselves," McGee   said. "They have been in this cycle, so training them what a family should look like is ultraimportant. Sometimes we look at them and say, 'Why can't they just be good parents?' But who teaches them how to be good parents?"

"The parent training before and after visitation is our unique difference, and very important for the reunification process."



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