After offering workshops during 1990 to children in public and private residence (housings) as well as to diverse communities and their experience with youth retreats, the Augustinian Sisters chose to work with the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Their vision is to prevent secondary wounds to abused and neglected children and youngsters whom have experienced maltreatment so that they will not suffer the consequences of being victimized again by their parents, tutor, or by the institutions responsible or their well-being. With this vision the Augustinian Sisters have intervened offering education to the minor’s support network. They work with their biological parents to teach them and provide them with tools that will help them care, discipline and supervise their children as well as to help them on their personal development. They also have worked with minor’s case manager, foster parents and teachers so that they can be sensitive to their needs and to respond appropriately to their special needs.
They have worked directly with over 3,700 abused and neglected minors on Support and Sustain workshops called M.E.T.A.S, in Spanish. Through these workshops the have accomplished developing on minor’s a sense of belonging, a healthy self-esteem and development and desire to earn an honest livelihood through study and education.
The Augustinian Sisters have taken responsibility working with mistreated minors on three levels of prevention: education, high risk and treatment. They have defended the minors and they have mediated on behalf of them at the Court of Puerto Rico, so that they consider their well-being, permanency and security. The Sisters also worked to obtain funds through the Children Trusteeship for the construction of a Shelter and Training Center for the abused and neglected children and their supporting network.
The Sisters also have developed two programs for the community. The first program is Families on Supporting Groups, which trains facilitators for a social service agency to help them, work with these groups. They also created the San Agustin del Coqui, Inc. Family Reunification Program, which works with rescued minors, their support network and biological parents to help them overcome the behaviors and problems which guided them to become abusive, negligent of mistreating people. The Sisters and a social worker train and counsel biological parents, foster parents and children. As a result, 165 children returned to their biological home achieving 67% reunification during year 2003.
They initiated the publication and free distribution to the community of a magazine in which they and other professionals contribute with articles of interest about the mistreatment subject to educate people about its negative impact. Additionally, the Sisters installed a library providing free service to the community of Aguas Buenas open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with more than 5,000 books available. Children, adults, and homeless children receiving tutoring courses have access to books and Internet for their schoolwork. This library is truly a learning center for the community.