January 2018
"The things that have happened to us are never forgotten. The others do not have our problems. Other people, they are more free."

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. In this issue, we focus on recent academic research and scholarly articles that explore mental health and psychosocial needs of children and youth placed into care or separated from their families.

Emotional health and coping mechanisms among adolescents in Malaysian residential foster care homes: A comparative study with adolescents living with families
This article from the Asian Journal of Psychiatry presents the findings of a study that examined the emotional health status and coping mechanisms of adolescents living in residential care facilities in  Malaysia , in comparison with those of adolescents living in families. The study found that adolescents in residential care faced significantly more emotional health problems than the adolescents who lived in families, including higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as fewer healthy coping mechanisms. 

The Effects of Psychosocial Deprivation on Attachment: Lessons from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project
The absence of typical caregiving, including warm and responsive parenting, has been suggested to significantly affect the young child's ability to form adaptive relationships with adults and peers. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP), a randomized controlled trial of foster/family care for young children in Romania with a history of institutionalization has provided the context to assess these relationships. This study reviews data from the BEIP with specific focus on attachment. The findings clearly show the importance of early family care on the emergence of attachment, on the prevention of psychopathology, and on links between brain and social behavior. In the same year, several of the authors of this study also published a paper entitled 'Effects of early institutionalization on emotion processing in 12-year-old youth.This study, published in the journal of Development and Psychopathology,  examined facial emotion recognition in 12-year-olds in a longitudinally followed sample of children with and without exposure to early life psychosocial deprivation (institutional care). Half of the institutionally reared children were randomized into foster care homes during the first years of life. The article shows that early intervention can have a lasting positive impact, normalizing developmental trajectories of processing negative emotions (fear) into the late childhood/preadolescent period.

This study from the Brain Sciences journal 
aimed to review and analyze data from recent global literature about recognition and processing of facial expressions in individuals with history of childhood neglect. This is the first review to examine specifically the effects of early neglect experience as a prevalent condition of child maltreatment. The systematic review examined existing literature on the impacts of neglect of children in foster care, orphanages and other institutions, including the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, as well as studies on neglect of street children, including a study from Sierra Leone. The review indicates that "early neglect is associated to some form of alteration to the perception of emotional expressions." The article brings relevant information that can help in the development of more effective therapeutic strategies to reduce the impact of neglect on the cognitive and emotional development of the child. 

Child maltreatment (CM) in foster care settings (i.e., institutional abuse, IA) is known to have negative effects on adult survivor's mental health. This study examines and compares the extent of CM (physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect) and lifetime traumatization with regard to current adult mental health in a group of survivors of IA in Vienna, Austria and a comparison group from the community. The study found that the foster care group had significantly higher prevalence rates in almost all mental disorders including personality disorders and suffered from higher symptom distress in all dimensional measures of psychopathology including depression, anxiety, somatization, dissociation, and the symptom dimensions of PTSD. 

This phenomenological study from the Traumatology journal explored the "lived" experience of Out-of-Home Care (OoHC) in the US from the perspective of 4 adult care leavers reflecting on their childhood. Crucially this study highlights that foster parenting in OoHC has the potential to nurture healing from family of origin trauma but invariably contributes to cumulative distress on earlier childhood trauma. As such, foster parenting requires a unique ability to engage relationally with traumatized children. Poor remuneration and screening, and lack of training in healing and reparative support for childhood trauma, will continue to risk the future adult mental well-being of children placed in OoHC.

Understanding the Situation
Caring for children: Relationships matter
In this essay from South African Child Gauge 2017, the authors seek to respond to the following questions: Why are caring relationships important for children's development? What do we know about systems of care for children in South Africa? What are the factors that can compromise care? What are the interventions that can improve the quality of caring relationships? The essay explains the importance of nurturing care and affection for children's wellbeing and development and describes the different forms of care in South Africa, including family care, adoption, foster care, kinship care, and other community-based care mechanisms. The essay also addresses the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on children's care, discusses possible impediments to providing adequate care to children, and provides examples of programs and interventions that can improve children's care (including home visiting, community-based care, and youth programs). 

The Relationship Between Institutional Environment, Guardian Involvement, Academic Achievement and Learning Motivation of Children Reared in a Malaysian Orphanage
This research was conducted to study the relationships between academic performance, learning motivation, institutionalized environments and guardian involvement of children reared in a Malaysian orphanage. This study involves 50 students consisting of 21 female and 29 male students. These students are in secondary school with ages ranging from 13-17 years old. This study was conducted in a home for orphans and under-privileged children and all the participants of this study are from this home. Results of the study indicate that the children in the home felt the level of guardian involvement was very low and that there is a significant positive correlation between guardian involvement and academic performance, but no significant relationship between guardian involvement and learning motivation.

Health of Southern Tasmanian 4- to 6-year-old children in out-of-home care compared to peers
The aim of this study from the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health was to compare the health of 4- to 6-year-old children in out-of-home care (OOHC) in Southern Tasmania, Australia with their peers. Demographic and health data collection and prospective health assessment of all 4- to 6-year olds in OOHC in Southern Tasmania on 30 August 2011 was undertaken. Data were compared to Tasmanian and/or Australian peers. This study highlights the need for comprehensive health screening assessments for all children in OOHC. OOHC clinic data can be helpful in planning broad interventions for children in OOHC.

Innocenti Research Digest on Adolescence
Innocenti produces a quarterly research digest highlighting the most important news and resources in  global adolescent well-being over the last three months. This edition focuses on protection from violence, health and development & learning.  In this digest, Innocenti features global data on the prevalence of violence against adolescents, global estimates of violence in familiar settings, child homicide, child labor, and youth recruitment into violent extremism. Other key resources include: systematic reviews of interventions in adolescent health and development, behavior change (BCI) interventions in HIV/ AIDS prevention, preventive mental health services for adolescent refugees; global reviews of adolescent learning outcomes, education services in emergencies, girls clubs and life skills programs, and multi country analysis on children internet use.

This study, published in the Children and Youth Services Review journal, explored the adjustment of 37 adolescents and 22 emerging adults, adopted through an Italian form of open adoption, and analyzed the quality of adoptive family relationships and adoptees' attachment as possible moderating variables in the relation between multiple pre-adoptive risk factors and adoptees' outcomes. Overall, the findings support the suggestion that attachment security and good current family relationships can mitigate the negative impact of pre-adoptive stressors on adoptees' later functioning, acting as protective factors.

Education & Child Protection in Emergencies: Joint Rapid Needs Assessment, Rohingya Refugee Response 2017
The main objective of this Joint Rapid Needs Assessment (JRNA) from UNICEF and UNHCR was to identify education and child protection needs, priorities and capacities of refugee Rohingya boys and girls in the camps, settlements and host community in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh to inform and provide the evidence-base for the 2018 Joint Response Plan (JRP). The report presents key findings from the assessment as well as recommendations for government and other actors. Child Protection-related findings include data on the risks and safety of Rohingya refugee children (including family separation), unaccompanied and separated children, violence against children, and child marriage and trafficking, among other concerns.

From the day they are born: a qualitative study exploring violence against children with disabilities in West Africa
This study, published in the BMC Public Health journal, explores violence experienced by children with disabilities based on data collected from four countries in West Africa- GuineaNigerSierra Leone, and Togo. The study is part of a larger study entitled "Development of a Regional Framework to Empower Children with Disabilities to Access their Right to Education and to Protection in West Africa" funded by Plan International. Results illuminate that children with disabilities experience violence more than non-disabled children, episodes of violence start at birth, and that how children with disabilities participate in their communities contributes to their different experiences of violence. Findings also suggest that children with disabilities may be at greater risk of abandonment and violence due to cultural beliefs in certain communities. The study recommends policy-oriented actions and prevention programs that include children and their families in strategizing ways to address violence.
Policies, Standards & Guidelines

3 Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families
This report from the the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University in the United States argues that, to be maximally effective, policies and services should: (1) Support responsive relationships for children and adults, (2) Strengthen core life skills, and (3) Reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families. For each of the recommendations, the report provides reasoning and evidence to support the recommendation and examples of how to apply each principle to child and family policy.

Realising Rights? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Court
This report by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) draws out the ways the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been used around the world to challenge abuses of children's rights, but also where it has been misunderstood and misapplied by national courts. It addresses the use of the Convention in general, and features more detailed analysis of three of the most cited rights under the Convention and the divergent ways they have been applied and interpreted: (1) Best interests of the child, (2) Right to be heard, and (3) Deprivation of liberty.  The report includes examples of court cases around the world in which the CRC has been invoked, including in cases of child abuse, intercountry and domestic adoption, and deportation of parents that would result in family separation. 

Striving for the Sustainable Development Goals: What do children need to thrive?
This essay from the South African Child Gauge 2017 critically engages with the 2030 Global Agenda and assesses the potential of the SDGs to transform our world to enable all children - regardless of race, gender, ability, or social background - to not only survive but thrive. Among the needs of children outlined in the essay is the need for responsive caregiving and nurturing care. The authors note that children need the care of parents or other primary caregivers in a family-based setting in order to thrive. The essay examines best practices from around the world and presents case studies in South Africa, including education and youth empowerment programs. The essay also assesses the extent to which the SDGs will promote nurturing care and help children and families thrive within the South African context. 

2017 in Review: Key Developments Towards Child Protection Reform Across Europe
This resource from Opening Doors for Europe's Children features an interactive map of Europe which offers a brief description of children's care reforms in highlighted countries, primarily across Eastern Europe. According to the resource, Poland has made family strengthening a priority in recent legislation, Lithuania has developed quality alternative care options (including professional foster care), Ukraine adopted a national deinstitutionalization strategy, and Moldova has reduced the number of children in institutions by 87% since the beginning of its deinstitutionalization strategy in 2007, to name a few.

Learning from Practice
The objective of this study, published in the BMJ Global Health journal, was to assess the impact of 'Parenting for Lifelong Health: Sinovuyo Teen', a parenting program for adolescents in low-income and middle-income countries, on abuse and parenting practices. Participants in the study included 552 families from 40  villages/urban sites (clusters) in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa who reported  conflict with their adolescents (aged 10-18). The study found that the program shows promise for reducing violence, improving parenting and family functioning in low-resource settings. To learn more about the Sinovuyo Teen program, check out the recording of the webinar 'Programmes in practice: "Parenting for Lifelong Health" with Dr. Jamie M. Lachman,' in which Care2Practice's Lucy Hillier talks to Jamie Lachman, founder and director of Clowns Without Borders South Africa, about the "Parenting for Life Long Health" programme, the strengths of the approach embodied by the programme, what has been learned so far, and the implications for children's care. They also discuss experiences implementing the programme in different countries and contexts.  

Listening to child protection workers in Saudi Arabia: Child protection workers speak of how they experienced the policies and programs introduced to protect children between 2010 and 2013
The protection of children at risk of abuse and neglect requires engagement of the whole community. In this article from the journal of International Social Work, child protection managers and direct service workers in Saudi Arabia report their experiences in implementing new policies. Findings of the study showed that early improvements to child protection policies and programs led to confusion among workers regarding their role and were perceived by the workers to be placing children at risk. Limited power assigned to workers, conflict with cultural norms, and a lack of specialist education in child protection were among the barriers preventing workers from undertaking their roles effectively.

The Evaluation of the Adoption Support Fund
Following 10 local authority prototype projects, the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) was introduced across England in May 2015. Between May 2015 and February 2017 10,231 families were funded to receive a range of post-adoption therapeutic services through the Fund. This evaluation of the ASF was conducted f rom May 2015 to February 2017 by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. The key aims were to: (1) Describe the implementation of the ASF, to see if there had been any changes triggered in how funding used for post-adoption support was being channelled and how this impacted on core services; (2) Describe how the assessment for post-adoption support had been influenced by the introduction of the Fund; (3) Ascertain if, and how, the ASF funding stimulated expansion in a market for postadoption support; (3) Assess whether families' experiences of post-adoption support services had improved; and (4) Measure improvement in the lives of families who received therapeutic services through the Fund. 

Zunde Ramambo as a Traditional Coping Mechanism for the Care of Orphans and Vulnerable Children: Evidence from Gutu District, Zimbabwe
This study from the African Journal of Social Work sought to examine the feasibility of rejuvenating and strategically repositioning the Zunde raMambo (King's granary) as a traditional orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) coping mechanism in Zimbabwe with a special reference to Gutu District. According to the paper, Zunde raMambo is a community-led form of grain production and storage that was largely intended to cater to the disadvantaged people in the community; namely those with disabilities, poor people, strangers, widows and OVC. Focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews were used to collect data from the OVCs, care-givers and key informants. The study established that the Zunde raMambo OVC mechanism which was formerly and traditionally owned by the communities is now centrally owned and controlled by the government. These contemporary strategies are formulated and implemented through a top-bottom or elite-mass approach that does not promote ownership and participation of the local communities in their programmes.  

Foster youth advisory boards (YAB) have the objective of promoting foster youth participation in decisions that are made about their lives. There is currently little known about how youth participation is conceptualized or implemented within or across boards. This qualitative study explored youth participation from the perspectives of 42 primary YAB facilitators in 34 states in the US. Findings explore facilitators' conceptualizations of youth participation, the strategies and program activities they use to enact youth participation, and the strengths and limitations of each of the approaches.

This study from the journal of Qualitative Social Work explored child protection workers and parents' experiences on participatory practices in Ghana. Drawing on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 8 child protection workers and 19 parents, this study reports participants' experiences of participatory practices. Workers indicated they ensured transparency and diversity while promoting participatory practices and parents reported their engagement in decision making as a prominent feature of their participation in case meetings. Barriers to participation were identified by the participants. The study findings suggested some measures to be put in place to overcome these barriers to ensure the full participation of parents during case meetings.
Family Group Decision-Making: Implementing the Family Group Conference
Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) is a widely used term referring to the engagement of a family (broadly defined) to participate in the planning, actions, and assessment of decisions that impact child safety, permanency, and well-being.  This podcast gives listeners an overview of how Arizona Kinship Support Services implements the Family Group Conference (FGC) model in the US state of Arizona, developed by the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. Listeners are also provided details about the rigorous evaluation criteria and what early program indicators are telling the evaluators about the types of families more likely to engage in Family Group Conferencing.


In this issue, we highlight the care-related Concluding Observations adopted by the  Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at its  18th Session held 14 August - 1 September 2017, with a particular focus on sections addressing children's care.
Click below to read the Country Care Reviews for the following countries:


Preparing street connected children for foster care
Better Care Network and 
Child's i Foundation have produced a series of six videos capturing practice-based learning on children's care issues in Uganda. In this newsletter, we highlight the video on preparing street connected children for foster care. In this video, Dinah Mwesigye, a social worker at Retrak in Kampala, Uganda, describes Retrak's work with street-connected children to prepare them for foster care.  The video is accompanied by a  one-page discussion paper with video summary, discussion points, and suggestions for further reading.

Romania revamps its orphanages
This video from TRT World describes the deinstitutionalization process underway in Romania, including the efforts of the Robin Hood Centre and Hope and Homes for Children to transition to family-based care models in the country. The video describes the conditions of Romania's institutions during the Soviet era and the efforts now being made to reintegrate children into families or to place them into "family-style homes."

Building Core Capabilities for Life
This 5-minute video from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University explores the development and use of core capabilities - known as executive function and self-regulation skills - from early childhood into adolescence and adulthood. T his new video describes what these skills are, why they are important, how they develop, and how they are affected by stress. It combines an allegorical "scribe" storytelling technique with new animation of brain development to show how positive conditions, including family strengthening services, support the development of these skills, and how adverse conditions make it harder to build and use them.


The Guardian, 4 February 2018

ABC News, 2 February 2018

Khmer Times, 28 January 2018

BBC News,  23 January 2018
NETHERLANDS: Minister: let children in foster families stay until 21
DutchNews.nl,  22 January 2018
UK: Our foster care system is failing some of the most vulnerable young people in Britain 
Prospect Magazine,  19 January 2018

CTV News,  18 January 2018

GLOBAL: Why visiting orphanages can do more harm than good
TTG Media, 18 January 2018

ETHIOPIA: Ethiopia adoption ban may curb trafficking, but poorest families need support
Reuters,  15 January 2018

Global Press Journal, 12 January 2018

CHINA: Chinese boy with frozen hair reignites poverty debate 
BBC News, 11 January 2018

INDIA: India suspends Holt International for 'negligence' in Sherin Mathews adoption
WFAA, 10 January 2018

GHANA: Don't Just Send Food Items To Orphanages
Modern Ghana, 10 January 2018

CANADA: Why Indigenous children are overrepresented in Canada's foster care system
MSN, 10 January 2018

ETHIOPIA: Ethiopia bans foreign adoptions
BBC News, 10 January 2018

AUSTRALIA: Australia's child protection system is ripping families apart
Independent Australia, 9 January 2018

USA: Why Do Child Welfare Agencies Keep Demanding Poor People Raise Their Kids 'Independently' When No One Else Does?
Youth Today, 8 January 2018

KENYA: Samburu County asked to come up with a children protection unit
Standard Digital, 7 January 2018

USA: Grandparents as Parents: Support available for kin caring for kids
Mankato Free Press, 5 January 2018

INDIA: Child rights sacred, cannot be bartered by orphanage in-charges: SC issues notices to all states, union territories
The New Indian Express, 5 January 2018

USA: Parents with Disabilities Face an Uphill Battle to Keep their Children
Pacific Standard, 3 January 2018

INDIA: 33 kids forced to beg, 'orphanage' sealed
Times of India, 3 January 2018

CANADA: Victims Sought: Canada Awards $635 Million to Stolen 'Sixties Scoop' Native Children
Indian Country Today, 2 January 2018

UGANDA: How orphanages in Uganda profit from children's misery 
Chatham House: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1 January 2018

USA: Fathers separated from children at border join other families in formal complaint
San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 December 2017


Global Social Service Workforce Alliance Save the Date: February 13 Webinar on Case Management Best Practices
13 February 2018

REMINDER: Getting Care Right for All Children: Implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children - Massive Online Open Course (MOOC)
19 February 2018

Webinar Hosted by Rise Learning Network: "Case Management: Lessons from Tdh Nepal"
22 February 2018

Frontiers of Children's Rights in the Caribbean Region Spring School
5-9 March 2018, University of CuraƧao

REMINDER: 3rd Biennial International Conference on Alternative Care for Children in South Asia 2018
16 March 2018, Delhi-NCR, India

Centre for Children's Rights Studies (CCRS) 9th International Conference: To Improve the Protection of Children in Switzerland: Ban All Corporal Punishment?
3 May 2018, Bern, Switzerland

Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit 2018
9-11 May 2018, Texas, USA

Chinese Women's Association Social Service Leaders Exchange Program 2018
17-30 June 2018, Singapore

Foster Care Queensland 2018 Australian National Foster and Kinship Care Conference
7 September 2018, Gold Coast, Australia
Application deadline is 11 February 2018

Save the Children: Senior Director of Child Protection
Application deadline not provided