Yesterday at lunch, a girl who is one of my English students, just about to turn 12-years old (tomorrow!) and is always very sweet and affectionate with me, asked me, “When you have kids, are you going to put them in a Casa [like this one]? Interesting question, I thought.
“No,” I responded.
“Good,” she replied, “because parents who do that are irresponsible.”
Another girl who was sitting with us, who is very close to her mother (an only child like me:) disagreed, “No, that’s not true.”
I responded, “It depends on the situation. Some parents put their kids in the Casa because they want them to go to school.” The other girl agreed with me, feeling affirmed, I believe. I continued, “ and some parents put their kids in the Casa because they want to make sure they have food to eat.”
The conversation then began to shift to another topic; however, it stuck with me throughout the day.
Why are kids at the Casa? There are truly a diverse range of reasons. Some, because their parents work at carnivals and they wanted their kids to go to school. They knew that wouldn’t be possible with the transient nature of their work, so by putting their children in the Casa, they gave them a stable place to live during the week and attend school. Other kids are here because their families do not have a home. Prior to coming here, they lived on the street or in someone else’s house. Their mothers wanted to make sure they had decent food to eat daily. Some kids are referred to the Casa by DIF (their Department of Children and Family Services) for abusive or neglectful home situations. Other parents don’t come for their children on the weekends. I really don’t know or understand their stories completely.
What I do know is that sometimes it must be hard for a 12-year old to understand why she’s here.