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Just a really big family

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MICHAEL SIEFF

At Arcadia that’s on average how many we care for in the residential facility, excluding a further 25-plus in day-care. Clearly, organisation is key.   

Staff are on duty around the clock and the children get woken at six on school mornings. Youth and childcare workers help the little ones to wash, dress and eat breakfast, while the older ones make their own beds and pack their lunches from the range of food laid out in the kitchen.   

Working out the drivers’ schedules requires meticulous planning. Children have to be delivered to seven different schools and finish at varying times. 

In the afternoons there are extra lessons, sports, doctor and dentist appointments and a range of extracurricular activities. Almost all the children in Arcadia are placed there for their protection by the Children’s Court, so therapy sessions are not uncommon. Many deal with difficult histories and painful family situations.  

The day-care caters to children identified as being at risk. They go home to sleep in the evenings, but spend their afternoons with the residential children, eating lunch and doing homework under supervision. There are days when lunch is served to as many as 40 children.

Just like in any family, there are times when discipline is needed and others when a hug, chat, or shoulder to cry on will do the trick. 

There’s bath time, supper time, tidy-up time and bedtime; Yomtov, Shabbat and shul; visits to friends and family and holidays to plan. Time is allocated for playing, reading and watching TV. There are simchas to attend and gifts to buy, clothes shopping days and even pocket money to arrange. Every opportunity is taken to teach life skills in a normal environment and to eradicate any institutional feel.  

Just like in any family, every child is an individual with a unique personality, tastes, skills and needs. Their uniqueness is celebrated to build identity and self-esteem.  

At Arcadia the kids talk and listen to each other, offering support as they would to biological sibling – because in essence, they are brothers and sisters and will always have each other’s backs. Just like in any regular, really big family.

May our partnership continue to thrive.

feedback@thechev.org.za

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