Initially, the Benners had no adequate place to house this many children and rented houses in different parts of the capital city of San Salvador. In December 1984, the home was finally established in the location where it is today, in the town of Santiago Texacuangos in what used to be the home of an ex-president of El Salvador
The original colonial-style house remains and is used as the kitchen and dining area, as well as for several missionary and team apartments. All of the other buildings were built over the course of the years with the help of many church missions teams from North America.
"CHILDREN WITHOUT A HOME NOW LIVE IN A PRESIDENT'S HOME"
Today, each age group and gender have their own house, each with its own dorm parents who live in with the children as substitute parents. (pictured below)
Some children are sent to the Shalom Home by the government’s social service’s agency, and some by judges of the family court system in relation to cases of various types of abuse. Some children are orphans, some from extreme poverty where the family has no means to care for and educate them, some from teen mothers, and some from abandonment in hospitals or on the street.
In general, the Home receives children from 0 to 6 years old and then they grow up in the Home. However, if there is a group of siblings where one child is a little older than 6 years old, the exception is made to receive the older child as well, in order to not separate the siblings.
The Shalom Home makes an effort to provide everything that a normal family would provide to its children: a warm bed, clothing & shoes, a nutritional diet, medical & dental care, education, recreation, birthday & holiday celebrations, spiritual formation, opportunities to develop talents, teaching in life skills, and most of all love and attention.
Some children require special attention such as psychological counseling, physical or speech therapy, and special education, all of which are also provided when necessary.
Most children grow up in the Home and leave once they graduate from high school which could be when they are around 18 to 20 years old (some children who come to the home never went to school and thus start late).
Once they graduate, some return to live with a family member, some find a place to rent together with other friends who are also graduating from the Shalom Home, and some go to live in the Shalom Home Youth Residence across the street from the Shalom Home.
Some children may leave the home before they graduate from high school due to the fact that a family member turns up who is willing to care for them, or the immediate family’s living and/or economic situation has improved to where they are able to care for their children again. In these cases, the Shalom Home continues to help the family with a scholarship for a local Christian school close to their home in order to assure that the child can finish school up through high school and continue to learn Christian values.
Some youth go on to have families of their own, some go on to college, and some get a job. All high school graduates have the option to go on to college and to receive help through the Shalom college work-study program.