Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Family is one of the strongest support systems in México

By: Daniel Knight 
Seattle University
          During this week the Social Work students were able to experience two viewpoints of the organization of The Development of Integrating Families, “Desarrollo Integral de la Familia” (DIF). DIF began with The National Agency to Family Development, which in Spanish is “Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia” (SNDIF). The organization DIF began in the early 80s and has worked to improve the wel lbeing of children and the families with lack of resources. While in our rural home stays, we had a visit to the DIF offices and then in the beginning of this week, we were able to speak with a DIF representative, who was a workerof one of the programs in the organization, Defense of Minor and Department of Adoption.  It was quite interesting to hear that they did not vary much in their programs compared to the United States.
            DIF is very much in comparison with the United States in many ways. They make sure there are programs for the elder, children, and families who are in need of assistance. They do not quite have the same payment plans as the U.S., but there is nonetheless assistance. For instance they have a program, Social Assistance, which supports children living on the streets and/or with disabilities. The program also helps with food services, scholarships and grants for single mothers, and shelters for all age groups. This program is very similar to our WIC program in the United States, which helps out young children. Another similar program is the food stamps because they too, like the food services, allow families to buy a good amount of food for themselves. It is always nice to see that fellow countries are doing their part to keep families together and healthy, but there were some things stated during our visits that would seem different than what we are used to in the social programs and organizations in the United States.  
          As we continued asking about certain programs and what else is offered for families with certain situations, the topic of leadership and positions were brought up.  We learned that many of the times the new governor of each state and/or municipality tends to appoint any female relative to be the president of the DIF. This shows some of the irregularities that happen in many organizations, sometimes that we as US citizens would not be accustom to. 
Una Familia en el Zocalo
         As the president began talking more about the programs they were working, there was definitely a sense of caring and also sadness for the families she interacts with. She spoke about the fact that she would not be able to see the results of her programs since every six years there is a reelection for a new president in the DIF offices. This really shows just how unstable some of the social programs can be and consistency is needed more than ever. Another thing that was very strongly demonstrated as we visited these organizations were the way services were ran for children without parents, or parents that could not take care of them.
After our visit to the DIF we were able to meet with a worker in the Defense of Minor and Department of Adoption. We learned that in México, there is no such thing as foster care.  Here in Morelos, there is no foster care, and she did say they are working on that. The reasons she gave for why foster care has not yet been implemented was because then the child’s heart will be broken if the family decides they do want them anymore. It would just be more loss for the child so they try to find one of their family members first and then if that is not possible then a shelter, which is like an orphanage.
  A lot of the organization deals with kids and sometimes it does not always seem ethical, or ethical to us, but who are we to judge. Maybe our ways do not seem ethical to them. Every social worker is still working on what is ethical compared to what is not. To what we have heard, it seems DIF has definitely progressed since it first began, but there is so much more that needs to be addressed. All they want to do is focus on keeping families together and hope that they are doing our best!


  1. First I would like to say very nice post!

    My fictive family is Latino and lives in Southern California. One of the biggest values I leared from them and will always cheerish is family and how important family is. One will even go past time to help a family member out.

    (this is Natalie KRO)
    dont want to confuse, two natalie's in class

    Also, I have heard discussions of the disparties in the social systems down in Mexico. But it's really great to see a program like DIF trying to make a difference!

  2. I’m a Hmong woman in Minnesota and all my life I’ve learned that family is everything you need. Family is always there to support you and no matter what happens your family comes first. Not just the family but the whole community is very close to one another so whatever happens everyone will know about it and everyone will give a helping hand. Sometimes it doesn’t work like it works the opposite but family in my culture is a big thing. Hmong parents also likes to keep their children close together so they will do anything to keep them close and keep them safe.
    I’m very happy to hear that Mexico is doing something to keep the families together! It’s hard trying to keep a family together and if Mexico can do it any other places could do it also well. It just gives me hope that other countries would have some programs to help keep a family together.
    This blog was really good! I really enjoyed how you gave details and examples of things. The explanations were great it really helped me understand what you’re trying to say!
    Jaia Chang

  3. marisol campusanoApril 27, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    Hello Daniel, I like your post because I’m from Mexico and the family structure there is very different from the one in the U.S. Parents in Mexico allow and are happy for their kids to stay at home with them even after the age of eighteen. The kids usually leave when they get married. In some cases parents or grandparents come along to live with the newlywed because families tend to look for each other. Mexican families have a strong attachment and bond. They are more of a collectivist culture than an individualistic one.
    When I was lived in Mexico in a small ranch/farm I remember DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) was in charge of providing school lunches as well as helping other rural communities. The schools are responsible for hiring a person to cook the meals for the students and the students only have to pay about two to five pesos (.2 to .5 cents) for their breakfast. When I was there in the year 2001 it was two pesos, but I don’t know how much it is now. In addition, families can go to the company to buy school lunch snacks and cartoon milk for a reduced price. Though this may be different in large cities like Cuernavaca.
    Marisol Campusano

  4. Hey! love the post :)

    My family is from Axochiapan, Morelos! I wish I could be there. Its true that family is one of the biggest support systems in Latino culture. Even the way homes are built emphasizes the value of family. Usually they have stone walls with barred windows instead of fences. Also the yard is at the center of the home. All of this goes to show that the home is meant to be a source of protection and stresses the importance of family life in the national culture.

    I’m so glad Augsburg Students got the chance to go to Cuernanvaca. The Minneapolis- St. Paul metro area has the largest population of people from Morelos in the country. Most come from my town, Axochiapan. I know that when you come back to the cities you will be able to see the connections to Morelos.

    Enjoy your time in Mexico!

    Celia Hernandez-Payan

  5. Hello ALL my Name is Daniela...not Daniel. Sorry that was a typo