April 2019
Issue on Children with Disabilities
" Enabling children with disabilities to access family-based care ensures they have the same development opportunities as other children. They have a much greater chance of reaching their developmental potential in a family than in a residential care setting."

-  Sreyny Sorn, ABLE Program Manager, from ABLE: Inclusive Family-Based Care for Children with Disabilities Video
Andy Bilson and David Tobis are working with Better Care Network to promote parent advocacy and activism in child welfare as a way to improve the care of children in low and middle income countries. The aim is to identify organizations or individuals in low or middle income countries that are working to increase the influence and power of parents in child welfare and child protection decision making at the case, program and/or policy levels. 

Although the main focus is child welfare or child protection, we are interested in parent advocacy at the interface with other systems such as early childhood development, developmental disabilities, mental health, sexual violence or health where child welfare or child protection issues (primarily child removal) are involved. 

We are asking you to help identify people and organizations that currently are promoting parent advocacy and activism in low and middle income countries . If you know any such groups, please send their names and contact information to DMTobis@gmail.com .

As there may be few groups of parents that are involved in parent advocacy or activism in child welfare, we are also interested in contacting groups of parents in low and middle income countries that are working to gain more support, assistance or justice for their families and their children in areas beyond child welfare or child protection. We are interested in these groups to help us understand what kinds of assistance might be helpful to support the work of parent groups in their countries. If you know any such individuals or groups, please send us their names and contact information.

Thank you for your help,

Andy Bilson & David Tobis

Focus on Children with Disabilities
The Focus Section brings together research and other documentation published over the past year or two on a particular theme or region. Its aim is to draw attention to the growing body of knowledge developing on the issue and help busy practitioners keep abreast of learning and changes.

Presented at the UN Human Rights Council side event on Promoting Quality Alternative Care for Children with Disabilities on 5 March 2019, this video highlights the work of ABLE, a project of the Cambodian NGO Children in Families that provides inclusive family-based care for children with disabilities. Also read the full transcript of the presentation by Sreyny Sorn, ABLE's program manager, here .

This presentation of  Family Care for Children with Disabilities: Practical Guidance for Frontline Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries  was given by Gwen Burchell, co-author of the Guidance, at the UN Human Rights Council Side Event on Promoting Quality Alternative Care for Children with Disabilities on 5 March 2019. The Guidance was developed by World Learning and Partnerships for Every Child, and commissioned by USAID,  to help front-line personnel (social service workers and others) in low- and middle-income countries to work effectively with children with disabilities and their families.

In the present report, submitted pursuant to UN Human Rights Council resolution 37/20, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights provides an overview of the legal framework and practical measures to empower children with disabilities. The report concludes with recommendations to assist States in empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights. The report makes reference to the higher likelihood that children with disabilities experience rights violations, including their right to a family, and the lack of inclusive education for children with disabilities as a driver for institutionalization.

In her report, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities provides an overview of the activities undertaken in 2018 and a thematic study on disability-specific forms of deprivation of liberty, in the light of the standards set forth in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report references the institutionalization of children with disabilities as well as its underlying causes and adverse consequences.

This Resolution on "empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights" was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on 22 March 2019. The Resolution makes mention of the particular vulnerability of children with disabilities to institutionalization, reaffirms the importance of a family environment for all children, and calls upon States to provide necessary support services to children and families so as to prevent institutionalization and family separation, encouraging States to "undertake every effort to provide alternative care within the wider family and, failing that, within the community in a family setting" where the immediate family is unable to care for the child.

Child Rights Connect delivered a written and oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council on 4 March 2019 at an event to promote the empowerment of children with disabilities to enjoy their full human rights, including through inclusive education. In the statement, Child Rights Connect says that children with disabilities "are much more likely to grow up in alternative care and face heightened risk of violence."

The purpose of this Situation Analysis of Children with Disabilities in Albania is to generate comprehensive knowledge about children with disabilities to inform concrete actions by the Albanian government and UNICEF Albania to address the most critical rights violations of children with disabilities. The study found that most children with disabilities in Albania live with their families. However, such children are also overrepresented in the public system of residential care.

In this study from the journal of Child: care, health and development , the authors explored the needs of families of children with cerebral palsy in Bangladesh in order to improve services for children with disabilities and their families. Five different themes were found on needs of families with children with disabilities: (a) financial needs, (b) needs for disability‐related services, (c) needs for family and community cohesion, (d) informational needs, and (e) emotional needs.

This study from the Child: care, health and development journal explores the impact of a participatory training programme in Ghana for caregivers delivered through a local support group, with a focus on understanding caregiver wellbeing.

In Latvia , residential schools for children with special needs continue to host a large proportion of children with disabilities. Using the data from a nationwide evaluation of accessibility of employment and education in Latvia, the authors of this paper from the Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care argue that due to the fragmented implementation of deinstitutionalisation (DI) and lack of a child centred approach throughout the education sector, current practices of care contribute to the creation of ‘inclusive exclusion.’

Guided by social-ecological theory, this study from the journal of Child Abuse & Neglect explores responses to violence against children with disabilities, including preventative measures and treatment of victims in the West African countries of Guinea , Niger , Sierra Leone , and Togo . Among the findings, the study revealed that children with disabilities are often "hidden at home or in institutions for both their own and their family’s safety."

This study from the Children and Youth Services Review tests the associations of risk and protective factors on mental health outcome variables of youth in foster care with disabilities in the United States .

The goal of this research is to gain insight into the challenges of foster care for children with behavioral problems in Croatia , from the perspective of experts. The article highlights experts' suggestions for improving foster care aimed at identifying guidelines for the development of specialized foster care and protecting the welfare of children with behavioral problems.

The main goal of this article from the International Journal of Social Welfare was to explore the correlates of mental health diseases in a sample of 169 children with intellectual disability (6–18 years old) in residential care in Spain  compared with a group of 625 children, also in residential care but without disability. The study found that children with disabilities experience clinical problems more frequently than their peers without disabilities and that they are referred more frequently to psychiatric intervention, receiving more pharmacological treatments.

In this exploratory study from the journal of Social Work , through use of an online anonymous survey, local county child welfare caseworkers in the US were asked to self-rate their knowledge of, exposure to, and comfort levels with children with developmental disabilities.

This study from the British Educational Research Journal sought to find out the current numbers of autistic Looked-After children formally recorded across local authorities in England , and whether their needs are given special attention via strategic planning and oversight.

This report from Children's Rights and Education Law Center is divided into two parts. Part A focuses on the dangers that occur at the US state of Pennsylvania’s residential foster care facilities when the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA-DHS) fails to provide meaningful oversight. Part B provides background on child residents’ educational rights, detailing the inferior education that children at these residential facilities receive, especially children with disabilities.

Mexico ’s Supreme Court First Chamber has issued a ruling declaring that the practice of placing one 50-year old man with an intellectual disability under "guardianship," and thus stripping him of his autonomy and many basic rights, is discriminatory, according to this news release from Human Rights Watch. While the ruling only applies to this individual, it sets a precedent that may be followed by Congress and potentially enacted into law, promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities, including children, in the community.

Related Topics: Children with Disabilities

Understanding the Situation

This report - prepared for the European Commission by Applica and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER), in close collaboration with Eurochild and Save the Children - provides a first mapping of the situation across the 28 Member States of the EU outlining the situation in relation to children, particularly the four target groups (TGs) of disadvantaged children (children in institutions, children with disabilities, children of recent migrants and refugees, and children living in precarious family situations) as well as an indication of the key issues in relation to children’s access to the five policy areas (PAs): housing, healthcare, nutrition, early childhood education and care, and education.

This chapter by Kristen Cheney and Stephen Ucembe explicates the concept of the orphan industrial complex to argue that persistent narratives of “orphan rescue” not only commodify orphans and orphanhood itself but—counter to their stated goal—can actually spur the “production” of “orphans,” resulting in child exploitation and trafficking.

To ensure protection of children from institutional abuse, there is an urgent need to review the existing laws in terms of their efficacy to protect children and their feasibility in implementation in South Asia . The present study suggests possible solutions, by trying to understand standardized and effective models of care systems and mechanisms.

The objective of this study from CMAJ was to examine prenatal care among women in Manitoba, Canada with a history of having a child placed in out-of-home care, and whether their care differed from care among women who did not.

Related Topics: Foster Care, Parenting Support
This study from Global Social Welfare explored the perceptions and experiences of children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa surrounding HIV-related stigma and how it has affected their psychosocial well-being.

Using a two-study design, this study from the journal of Child Abuse & Neglect tests whether sexual minority youth are overrepresented in child welfare, foster care, and out-of-home placement using nationally representative data from the United States .

Related Topics: Foster Care
This paper from Child Care in Practice discusses findings from a small-scale qualitative study conducted in Harare, Zimbabwe . Findings show that young people aging out from Harare’s care institutions face challenges making their transition from care into adulthood.

This study from the journal of Child Abuse & Neglect determines where disparities in child protection involvement exist among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and characteristics associated with infant removals in Australia .

This study from the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care is a scoping review to explore what research evidence exists about what works in safely reducing the number of children and young people in care in the UK .

Related Topics: Foster Care
This article from the International Journal of Social Welfare , presents the results of a systematic mapping of social work training programs in countries throughout West Africa , a region historically under‐represented in global discussions of the social welfare workforce.

This article from the Oklahoma Law Review explores the US child welfare system and the practice of family separation of poor families. The article reviews child protection legal standards, including those that "conflate poverty and neglect." 

Policies, Standards, and Guidelines

These updated UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Guidelines provide guidance on determining the best interests of the child in decisions affecting children at risk, in particular children who are separated from their parents and families. 

The Opening Doors for Europe’s Children – a pan- European campaign that advocates for strengthening families and ending institutional care – released 16 country fact sheets about the progress with the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care (also known as deinstitutionalisation) in 2018.

The 2019 Prevention Resource Guide - created by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention - is designed to help individuals and organizations in every community strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

Written for USAID and PEPFAR implementing partners, with a focus on OVC practitioners, this is a user-friendly compendium of current resources, information and job aids for early childhood care, stimulation and education.

Using synthesis and an integrative approach, this article from Child & Youth Services analyzes laws, policies, and institutions that protect the rights and promote the welfare of orphaned children in the Philippines .

This publication from the Annie E. Casey Foundation outlines five clear steps that child welfare agency leaders in the United States can take to build and maintain a strong, stable frontline workforce.

This paper from the Children and Youth Services Review sets out to give a rounded view of the Irish foster care system as currently constituted. It covers areas such as the law and policy framework, key data, key institutional actors, views of the system from the perspective of key stakeholders (care experienced adults and young people, foster carers and their children and the biological parents of children in foster care), and distinctive features of the Irish system. 

Learning from Practice

This final report presents key learning, findings, and results of the “Children in Moldova are Cared for in Safe and Secure Families” (Children in Moldova) project. The project's goal was to improve the safety, wellbeing, and development of highly vulnerable children, particularly those who were living without adequate family care. 

This open access paper documents the Deinstitutionalization of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Uganda (DOVCU) project, articulating the logical steps that were undertaken to identify districts, Child Care Institutions (CCIs), Remand Homes (RH), sub-counties, and parishes to work with. It also seeks to categorically outline the inclusive process that was used to examine push and pull factors of family-child separation, identify households at risk of family-child separation (“prevention households”), identify reunifying children and trace their households (“reintegrating households”), and assess and classify in quantified terms the level of vulnerability in both at risk and separated households.

This report from the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg, presents the findings of an intervention study evaluating the short-term outcomes of Sihleng’imizi Family Programme, an evidence-based preventative social-educational intervention in South Africa .

This chapter from  Social Work Practice in Africa: Indigenous and Innovative Approaches  presents a traditional fostering model adopted by a group of women in Northern Uganda , analysing its potential for building resilience and for contributing to social capital and social development within the broad context of post-conflict situations.

Related Topics: Foster Care
This article from Emerging Adulthood explores the agency enablers and the factors which hinder adolescents and emerging adults transitioning from care to adulthood, with an emphasis on the transition into work taking a case study of the Uganda Youth Development Link.

This study from the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights documents and evaluates the harm prevention work carried out by the children’s rights nonprofit Aangan Trust since late 2015 in Konia, a peri-urban slum area in Varanasi, a large city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, to develop a deeper understanding of community strategies for preventing violence against children.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
In this issue, we highlight the care-related Concluding Observations adopted by the  Committee on the Rights of t he Child  at its  80th session  held 14 January - 1 February 2019, with a particular focus on sections addressing children's care.
Click below to read the Country Care Reviews for the following countries:

Family for Every Child  has shared three pre-recorded presentations to watch in advance of their Online Event on Kinship Care in Brazil  on Wednesday 3 April at 13:00 UK time.

Related Topics: Kinship Care

This series of videos highlights Save the Children's work in Honduras , El Salvador and  Mexico to protect migrant and returnee children. The videos depict some of the work that Save the Children is doing to promote and protect the rights of families in Central America before, during, and after migration - including through family strengthening efforts that allow families to stay together, psychosocial support in detention centers, family reunification services, and more.

3 April 2019
7 April 2019
Cairo, Egypt
9 April 2019
Nairobi, Kenya
23-25 April 2019
Salvador, Bahía, Brazil
4 May 2019
Austin, Texas, USA
7 May 2019
Washington,DC, USA
16 May 2019
Glasgow, Scotland
2-4 July 2019
Durban, South Africa
27-29 August 2019
Windhoek, Namibia
5 April 2019
7 April 2019
8 April 2019
10 April 2019
15 April 2019
30 June 2019

Newsletter participants, currently 4,230 in total, work on issues related to the care and support of vulnerable children across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. The purpose of the newsletter is to enable members to exchange information on matters of mutual concern. If you would like to share a document, raise a specific issue, request a newsletter subscription, or reach out in any other way to the Network, please send the information to us at  contact@bettercarenetwork.org  or visit our website at  www.bettercarenetwork.org.  

Thank you!

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