“The youth is the hope of our future,” an immortalized quote by national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, which people have heard over and over again. But for social worker Rosalina Allosada the line has a deeper meaning. It has resonated on her journey in protecting the rights of children in conflict with the law (CICL) and saving their lives.

Rosalina, a social welfare assistant (SWA), has served at the DSWD Field Office VII Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) in Argao, Cebu. For 12 years, she has helped in the rehabilitation and reformation of the CICL through an active case management process and various interventions to clients.

Social welfare assistant Rosalina Allosada talks to clients of the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) on their daily activities in the center.

Despite having a caseload of three times more than the standards, she ably handled the management of 80 cases from 2017 to 2019. For Rosalina, she did not consider this an additional burden but as part of her life-long advocacy to help the CICL.

“I would like to help these children to become more responsible and law-abiding citizens. My ultimate joy is seeing them transformed into better individuals,” said Allosada.

She was instrumental in the modification of the Therapeutic Community in the RRCY. She has made it more child-friendly and has integrated into the system the children’s rights and the juvenile justice welfare.

The Therapeutic Community was adopted in RRCY in early 2000 as a behavioral shaping technique after the RRCY staff attended a capability building session from the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA).

In the implementation of a therapeutic community, punishments, contracts, and extreme peer pressures were used to affect behavior modification.  Even though the system behavior modification method seems harsher, it is a more useful technique in the rehabilitation of clients than the usual structured learning activities of the center.

After many years, the DSWD Field Office VII management felt the need to introduce changes in the implementation of the therapeutic community.

“The harsh methods have seen to create more degrading experiences to the children. Thus, we modified the implementation to be more child-friendly,” said Rosalina.

During the first modification of the therapeutic community, the center has eliminated the harsh methods and approaches like the “haircut process.” This process is the shaming of the person who makes a violation or offense. Rosalina recommended replacing the harsh techniques with “Unwritten Philosophy,” improved behavior shaping techniques like “Talk to, Spoken to, Dealt with,” and enhancing the rehabilitation case conference as an avenue to discuss the client’s rehabilitation goal and behavior modification. She also helped in pushing capability building and skills enhancement among the RRCY staff.

“The modifications in the therapeutic community have reaped positive behavioral changes among the clients. It also added a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction among the staff.  The use of harsh techniques resulted in the clients carrying with them the negative impressions and shame on themselves, and they behave counterproductively to the desired change. Reports of undesirable behaviors and incidents have been reduced significantly with the enhancements,” underscored Rosalina.

Guided by her center head, she introduced another modification, which she infused the concepts of client involvement, accountability, and made a more participatory approach. The focus was for the client to become more active and accountable in the rehabilitation and reformation with the hope that this will become a jump-off board to their resiliency and successful reintegration to their family and community.

She also recommended a structure that made the clients functional in the center. She created various departments within the RRCY home life structure like kitchen, housekeeping, farm, socio-cultural, and expediters/errands. The clients select their own coordinators and assistant coordinators, while the rest are members. Each department developed its own policies to guide the clients on what task to do.

Considering the need to improve and update the approaches of the therapeutic community, she conducted annual enhancement training to RRCY staff and clients to get their feedback and suggestion.

“Aside from the innovation we did for the past years in the center, it is also important to talk with the family, especially the parents, to prepare the CICL in their reintegration to the community. The support of the family is integral in their rehabilitation,” said Rosalina.

A self-effacing social worker, she believes that it takes a village to raise a child. She wants people to see that all children as their own children and treat them with respect and compassion.

“We will fail as a nation if we do not give these children a chance to change their lives. Everyone has a vital role in their character building. If we protect these children, we will also save the future of our nation,” said Rosalina. ###

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