The Kaya Center is our base of operations in La Paz, Bolivia, housing the majority of our programs and staff. Through the Kaya Center, we run a full-day program for children who would otherwise be on the streets and out of school, provide support services to their families, offer training to other agencies and volunteers, and develop and test new initiatives to further best practice with street-involved children. Read below for a full description of the programs we offer children. To learn more about how we help families in need, click here.
The day program is the central activity of the Kaya Center. It serves the children in our residential program, children who have transitioned from our residential program to living at home with their families, and children who are currently living with family but at high risk for moving onto the streets. The day program runs from 8 am to 6 pm and consists of 3 main components: education, psychosocial support, and afterschool activities.
Children enrolled in the Kaya Center's school program have unique academic needs that cannot be met through traditional schools. Children enrolled in public schools in La Paz attend one of three shifts each day-- morning, afternoon, or evening-- receiving about 3 or 4 hours of education in total each day. It is not unusual for each grade level to include children with several years age difference between them, as inconsistent attendance and lack of support causes children to miss full years of schooling. Most of the children enrolled at the Kaya Center fall into this category and are far behind their peers when we encounter them. In addition, many have specific learning challenges that require special attention. Our school program offers a traditional curriculum using a non-traditional approach. We use individualized learning plans to guide each child’s progress, enabling each child to work at a pace that suits his or her abilities. Because our program runs for a full day, five days a week, and with the extra support of one-to-one tutoring, children who are fast learners are able to move through material quickly and catch up to grade level, while children who have greater difficulties are given the time they need to achieve mastery. Instruction caters to different learning styles and special emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills. The goal of our education program is for children to receive the support they need to reintegrate into a regular public school at a grade level appropriate for their age.
The psychosocial support program addresses the various psychological, emotional, and social issues that are pervasive in children living on or near the streets. According to their needs, children participate in individual and group counseling, and receive crisis support. Clinical staff members work closely with teachers and other staff to support children in the classrooms and during afterschool activities. Key themes that are frequently addressed through this program include: healthy relationships, aggression, stress management, abandonment and loss, fear and anxiety, sexual development and appropriate boundaries, and self-esteem. Due to cultural norms and other factors, this type of support is very uncommon in La Paz, and clinicians trained in working with children are even rarer. For this reason, we are especially thankful that we can offer these vital services to children for whom this type of treatment is virtually unheard of or totally inaccessible.
The afterschool program offers a variety of classes and workshops that address important life skills and developmental goals through fun activities. Children can attend before or after school to have a safe and enriching place to spend their time. This not only keeps children off the streets and out of danger, it allows their parents to focus on earning income to support the family and gives the child a unique opportunity for growth and development. Classes range from guitar instruction to volleyball to movie-making to bike repair and tend to draw upon the talents and skills of our staff and volunteers. Through classes like these, in addition to specific workshops focused on vocational development and preparation for independence, we address self esteem, identity development, conflict resolution, teamwork, future orientation, perspective-taking, decision-making, and communication skills.