FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

THE ORGANIZATION

Q: When was Devoted to Children founded?

Devoted to Children (D2C) was founded in May of 2012 and the D2C Family Home opened its doors on July 24, 2012.

Q: Who manages the organization?

Kristin O’Connell is the Founder and Executive Director of D2C. Together with a Board of Directors of eight women, the organization is run collectively. On the ground in Haiti the Family Home and all community projects are managed by our In-Country Director, Isha Rosemond.

Q: What is the structure of the organization – is it a nonprofit? Religious organization?

Devoted to Children is a U.S. registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. D2C is not affiliated with any religious organization.

Q: What is your long-term vision for the organization? Do you plan to accept more children into the Family Home over time?

The guardianship of the children in the D2C Family Home is contracted until they each turn 18 years old. Our long-term vision is to support our seven kids in their pursuits of higher learning or vocational training to support their independence. We do not plan on accepting new children at this time, but we do intend to expand our community outreach to serve more children in the community at large. In addition, we are required through Haitian Social Services (IBERS) to leave two additional beds open for both a girl and a boy for temporary placements.
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THE CHILDREN

Q: How many children live in the orphanage? How did you find them?

We have seven children, three boys and four girls, currently living full time in the D2C Family Home. Some came to the Family Home through referrals of community leaders and extended family members, and others were placed through the Haitian Social Services (IBERS) after being identified as vulnerable or at-risk.

Q: Where do the children live? Who takes care of them at the Family Home?

Our children live in the D2C Family Home; a large 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a playroom. The house is rented long-term and was brand new upon moving in. Along with our In Country Director, our head nanny Madame Nicole lives full-time in the house with the children. There is full-time security detail to ensure the children are safe, and another nanny who supports the cooking, cleaning and laundry with Nicole. Every staff member is an integral part of these kids’ lives and contributes to the various parental roles. Not only does each staff member feel they are part of an extended family, they are excellent role models for the kids.

Q: How did you decide which children to take in?

It was very difficult to determine who would be accepted in the Family Home, as there are countless kids in need in Haiti. D2C established a strict criterion so that children would not be removed from their parents. This is often the problem with Haitian orphanages, since they are culturally viewed as a desirable advantage.
The children accepted into the D2C Family Home were identified as those with the highest risk and minimal family support. The highest priority was given to children who were considered a “restavek’ (child slave) or were physically abused. Secondly, to a child that was orphaned or abandoned for many years by their parents. Unfortunately, children placed with us through Haitian Social Services (IBERS) did not always fulfill our criteria, and often no background information was provided.
After a child was identified as a possibility, D2C would follow through with due diligence and perform a site visit where the child was living at the time. If a child was deemed in a most vulnerable situation, and the criterion was applicable, D2C would begin the legal process of guardianship.

Q: What was the legal process to accept children into the Family Home?

Originally, all paperwork was done with the village notary, where guardianship of the child was transferred to D2C Executive Director Kristin O’Connell from the current guardian, usually the closest relative. Per the terms of the legal documents, Ms. O’Connell would be responsible for the child until the age of 18, and would provide the basic necessities and an education. In addition, a local judge approved all the guardianship paperwork and the identity of the child through a birth certificate and next of kin.
Later, after a relationship was established with Haitian Social Services (IBERS) and they recognized our Family Home as a viable orphanage for their temporary placements, the legal process was implemented through them. As a precaution, D2C still followed through with its own paperwork and guardianship since Services (IBERS) did not always fulfill our criteria and often no background information was provided. D2C took extensive steps to conduct a thorough verification process with all the children to ensure their safety.

Q: Do you provide educational programs? Do the children go to school?

D2C funds the education of all the children in the D2C Family Home. This includes tuition, uniforms, books and transportation to/from the school. All our kids attend the best school in the community, Fils Cam School, except for Fransisco, who is currently in a mechanical apprenticeship and attends St. Anne’s School part-time.
In 2015, D2C expanded its mission to include educational programs following a community-based needs assessment. Seeking to address the Cayes Jacmel community’s critical educational needs and to create a wider impact, D2C initiated its Afterschool Tutoring Program in April 2015 at the local St. Anne’s School. The program served 75 students in its first academic year. In the 2018-2019 school year, D2C will double the size of the students served and teachers supported in the program.
While the D2C tutoring program has been incredibly successful, it does not adequately address the low matriculation and retention numbers that plague the community. Despite excellent exam scores, if students are unable to pay school fees or there’s a lack of qualified teachers, they cannot advance to the next grade. To ensure access to sustainable and high-quality education in Cayes Jacmel, D2C elected to proceed with partnering with St. Anne’s to develop a D2C funded Community School.

Q: What services do you provide for the children?

In addition to all educational needs, D2C provides three meals a day, a beautiful home, clothing, medical care and extra-curricular activities such as dance and English classes. Most importantly the children are loved and cared for as a part of family. It is our future intent to provide vocational training to the children as is currently the case with Fransisco, our eldest.

Q: How much does it cost to run the Family Home each year?

Expenses:
– Rent for the Family Home: $18,000/year
– Education for the 8 children: $5,000/year
– Monthly expenses: average $3,500/ month (includes Haitian staff salaries, utilities, classes, transportation to/from school, extracurricular activities)
Projects:
– Afterschool Tutoring Program $10,000/year
– Summer Camp $3,000/year

Q: Why/how do you incorporate yoga and meditation into the Family Home?

The D2C Yoga Initiative draws on scholarly studies indicating an inverse correlation between yoga/meditation and trauma. In particular, the D2C Yoga Initiative focuses on the ways in which trauma-informed and culturally competent yoga and mindfulness programs can address the short-term and long-term impact of trauma in youth.
For these reasons, Yoga and meditation are an integral part of the kids’ lives and each of the D2C projects. The kids participate in yoga classes with our Seva volunteers and at the Summer Camp. Mindfulness techniques are taught in the Afterschool Program to all participating youth. We hope to expand our Yoga Initiative by eventually training local teachers to teach kids in various orphanages and schools.

Q: How is the Family Home funded? Do you receive federal assistance or grants?

D2C is completely funded through private donors. D2C does not receive federal or religious organization assistance. At this time D2C has not received any grants.
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THE PROGRAMS

Q: What is the Seva project?

“Seva” is the Sanskrit word for selfless service. The D2C Seva Volunteer Trips are an opportunity for foreigners to come to Haiti and meet the D2C kids and learn about the community projects. It is part service trip, part adventure travel and part yoga retreat. Not only are participants immersed in the Haitian culture, but they contribute to the operation of D2C’s projects through fundraising for the organization.

Q: What volunteer opportunities are available? Is any expertise or training required?

The best way to become involved with the D2C organization is to come to Haiti on a Seva Volunteer Trip. Additionally, there are volunteer opportunities available to support the organization though administrative assistance, social media or fundraising, including the “Kids Helping Kids” Program.
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