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Child Protection Units

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1 Child Protection Units
South East Europe Consultation “Reform of the Child Care System: Taking Stock and Accelerating Action” Working Group 1 “Organization of Statutory Services at Sub-national level” ARDA LAZARENI Technical Secretariat for Children Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Albania

2 In 2005, Albania approved the National Strategy for Children and its Action Plan in order to systematically address the realization of children’s rights. Child protection is recognized as an issue and are identified the measures in regards to: protection of children from violence and abuse, promotion of children’s upbringing in the family environment or in foster care settings, improvements in adoption legislation, promotion of equal opportunities for children with disabilities, prevention and improved protection of trafficked children.

3 The National Strategy for Children and its Action Plan initiated very important institutional changes. Establishment of monitoring structures such as: Inter-ministerial Committee for Children's Rights Technical Secretariat for Children (TSC). The Secretariat monitors, coordinates and reports on the implementation of the strategy and child’s rights. The TSC reports to the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which is set up to propose policy changes with regards to children’s rights.

4 Child protection is still relatively a new concept and key sectors, are working on their specific role and responsibilities with regards to protecting children and families. In the frame of decentralization, now local government (municipalities/communes) have the responsibility to offer services for children and families at risk. NGO sector has been more active in offering social services than the local government structures.

5 Are started pilot projects with the aim to:
Strengthen the national child and family protection system. Strengthen the recently established municipal –level Child and Family Protection Units in the interest of establishing permanent structures for child protection at municipal level. Actually, there are seven Child Protection Units in the municipalities of Tirana, Kukes, Korca, Elbasan, Fier, Pogradec and Gjirokatra. The Child Protection Units are run by different NGOs under a memorandum of understanding with the municipality.

6 What are the functions of Child Protection Units (CPU)?
To assess and monitor the situation of children and family at risk, To coordinate local level protection, referral and response, and To conduct identification and multidisciplinary case management of the most urgent cases. Broadly, however, CPU objectives are to increase the capacity of local government units to identify, assess, refer and support children in need. Child Protection Units usually aim to achieve this through the establishment of a structure such as a case management team or the development of a network of collaborating NGOs providing social services within the municipality.

7 How they work? The child protection units (CPU) are based within the administrative structure of local social services. Work with a multidisciplinary team, for following up on individual cases of vulnerable children and families. The CPU staff participate in weekly multi-disciplinary case management meetings and chair monthly coordination meetings with a broader group of stakeholders where more difficult cases are discussed. The CPU serves as a drop in center where children and families can come to find more information or get referrals to other support services. Free psychosocial counseling is provided at the office, as well as individually in people’s homes, during regular home visits which are conducted on a weekly basis. All services are free and targeted to the most vulnerable children and families.

8 Key Activities Assessment and monitoring of child protection
Conducting assessment of child protection needs at community level and developing related municipal protection plan Updating database on vulnerable children and families and consolidating information to inform local level policy and planning.

9 2. Social Services Provision
Providing multi –disciplinary case management and support services for children and families at risk. Conducting regular outreach home visits to vulnerable families and children. Providing intake psychosocial counseling and support to children and families. Referring beneficiaries to other support services as needed

10 3. Coordination and referral
Coordinating monthly referral meetings with representatives of Social Services, education, health, public order, justice and civil society to exchange information and support referral for difficult cases. Conducting training and awareness rising of professionals and communities on child protection issues and appropriate response to facilitate identification and referral of cases.

11 Expected impact Children at risk are identified and provided with appropriate –specialized services. Local protection structures are in place and effectively manage a coordinated response to child protection. Professionals have increased knowledge and skills to address the specialized protection needs. Stakeholders improve cross-sectoral collaboration through institutionalized referral mechanisms. Communities have increased awareness and knowledge about how to protect children and where to turn for support. A good model for community based protection is recognized and replicate nation wide.

12 Things to be considered
Coordination with other institutions should be institutionalized. No formal agreements for cooperation with local partners. Clear roles and responsibilities should be designed and monitored by their institutions. Introduction of guidance and formal protocols for staff in health, education and the police on the identification, recording, reporting and referral of child protection cases Work with teachers focusing on the identification, monitoring and management of cases. More open debates with children facilitated by experts of the field. School can be a major source of information on children at risk.

13 The data base should be updated, including information on children at risk and also steps taken to solve their problems and results achieved. Available to all interested institutions, persons and confidentiality requirements should also be taken into consideration. Positive experience relating to management of cases should be used to improve future work of CPU and related structures. Municipalities should be encouraged to think about raising funds for CPU from the community, business, foreign donors etc. in order to increase its impact and sustainability. Awareness of community and local institutions on children rights and child protection might be considered. This is emphasized in small cities where the general mentality justifies violence against children.


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