Joint Issue with 4Children
May 2018
"Family strengthening means supporting families to recognize the many protective factors they possess within, and around them, then helping facilitate a process of leveraging these strengths to ultimately enhance their ability to meet their own needs, and improve their overall well-being. Our aim is to support families to feel like they're in the driver's seat; strong and confident in making changes and decisions that are in their best interest."

- Anna Jolly, Project Manager at Child's i Foundation, Keeping Children in Healthy and Protective Families Project, Uganda

Welcoming Naume Kupe to the BCN Team!

Better Care Network is delighted to announce that  Naume Kupe has joined our Secretariat as the new Coordinator of our Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Initiative.  Naume has for the past 15 years worked extensively in the Africa region on children's care and protection, particularly children affected by HIV. Her work has ranged from coordinating networks to managing regional programmes. She has particular expertise in knowledge exchange, advocacy, and capacity building. Prior to joining BCN, Naume was Programme Manager for the Regional Inter-agency Task Team on Children and HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa. Naume has worked in the NGO, UN and academic sectors. She holds a Masters in Communications and Media Studies from the University of Oslo, and a post- graduate diploma in Public and Development Management from the University of Witwatersrand. Naume is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and can be contacted at

BCN Has Moved!
Better Care Network has moved to a designated office housed at the Centre for Social Innovation, a co-working space, community, and launchpad for people who are changing the world. Our new address is:

Better Care Network
601 West 26th Street, Suite 325-19
New York, NY 10001, USA

This issue of the Better Care Network newsletter is published jointly with Coordinating Comprehensive Care for Children, or 4Children. 4Children  is a 5-year USAID-funded project improving the health and well-being of vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS and other adversities. 4Children operates through Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with five other consortium partners. 

One of 4Children's programmatic emphases has been on family strengthening. Family strengthening is comprehensive and includes a wide range of services and interventions, all of which are aimed at increasing the resiliency of caregivers and children, or helping them to manage and bounce back from stress and challenges by addressing risks and reinforcing protective factors. Family preservation services aim to address causes of family separation and the need for subsequent alternative care arrangements by providing interventions that promote the safety and well being of the child and family.  Programmatic examples include holistic case management, savings and internal lending approaches, cash plus care, parenting programs, psychosocial support, integrated early childhood development services, mental health services and community support groups.

This issue highlights the latest programmatic resources, research articles and other publications, tools and guidance from 4Children and other partners that address resilience, caregiver mental health, early childhood stimulation and learning, and parenting support - all aspects of a holistic approach to family strengthening. This joint newsletter will help readers gain knowledge on the different ways that family strengthening is being addressed and to learn from the documented successes of programs around the globe.

Florence Martin
Director, Better Care Network

Thomas Fenn 
Project Director, 4Children 

Better Parenting Nigeria is a parenting education curriculum whose goal is to build caregiver protective factors so that parents can provide better support to children. Better Parenting has four basic parts: two core sections - Cross-Cutting and Other Family Issues, and two supplemental sections - Early Childhood Development and Parenting Adolescents. This Facilitator's Manual from 4Children is for the facilitator to use to support the community discussions, provide targeted messaging, and recommend suggestions for knowledge and experience sharing. It should be used hand-in-hand with the Community Discussion Guide.

This brief from 4Children provides an overview of the approach to case management, steps in the process, and benefits to strengthening families gained from a holistic and family-centered approach.  Seven steps for successful case management services are identified: (1)    Identification, (2)    Enrollment, (3)    Assessment/Reassessment, (4)    Case Plan Development and Updating, (5)    Case Plan Implementation, (6)  Monitoring, and (7)  Case Closure.

The timely referral of children to necessary services within and between different sectors (e.g., health, education, social services) is critical for effectively preventing and responding to the multiple vulnerabilities faced by children and families affected by HIV and other adversities. This brief from 4Children presents referral mechanisms within the context of OVC programs, describes the different types of referral mechanisms, and explains key components of setting up a functioning referral system.

This paper from 4Children reviews published global literature on the mental health status of mothers living with HIV (MLH) and how this affects their children; outlines the pathways between maternal HIV, maternal mental health problems, and negative child outcomes; and describes a number of intervention entry points that have the potential to enhance impact across PEPFAR platforms. The paper includes discussion of children of non-maternal caregivers with mental disorders, including those children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.

This video from Catholic Relief Services provides an overview of the Thrive II project, a program in Tanzania designed to enhance parent-child bonds and strengthen early child development. The video features interviews with parents who have participated in the program as well as the Thrive Project Manager, explaining the objectives and activities of the project. The program teaches positive discipline techniques and encourages and supports breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life. Through the program, parents learn how to play with their children and how to improve maternal and child health.

This video from Catholic Relief Services provides an overview of the Mothers and Babies Course. The Mothers and Babies Course empowers mothers in Tanzania and Kenya to identify and manage stressors. Studies have shown that adult depression is a major public health concern in the developing world. Parental depression can manifest in an inability to bond with the baby, poor monitoring of a baby's health and nutritional needs, and lack of early stimulation. Mothers who learn mood regulation skills forge stronger bonds with their babies and are in a better position to meet their child's needs.

This paper from the Child & Family Social Work journal, presents findings from 15 families receiving services from the Department of Social Welfare in Sekondi, Ghana. Through semistructured in-depth interviews, the families shared their views on the roles played by their kin and informal social networks in contributing to the care of their children. The study findings suggest that kin still plays a vital role in the support of parenting through imbibing of norms and values; whereas the provision of casual support is provided by nonkin in one's social support network on the basis of reciprocity. Therefore, it was concluded that in developing social welfare policies to ensure better outcomes for children in Ghana attention also has to be placed on the supportive role of the community for families in danger of disruption as there is likely to be limited familial safety net for support in child care. 

2018 Prevention Resource Guide: Keeping Children Safe and Families Strong in Supportive Communities
This Resource Guide was developed to support service providers in their work with parents, caregivers, and their children to prevent child abuse and neglect and promote child and family well-being. It was created by the U.S. 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. The Resource Guide was created primarily to support community-based child abuse prevention professionals who work to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being. However, others-including policymakers, parent educators, family support workers, health-care providers, program administrators, teachers, child care providers, mentors, and clergy-also may find the resources useful. 

Protecting children through village-based Family Support Groups in a post-conflict and refugee setting, Northern Uganda: Case study
This case study from Community Child Protection Exchange tells the story of a child protection program developed by a community-based organization called Children of the World that works in villages in northern UgandaDiscussions with villagers suggest that the model is a powerful example of a broad peace-building process in a traumatized post-conflict community that is catalyzed by the issue of child protection.  The case study is part of a collection of work undertaken in 2017 to document interesting or promising examples of community-based child protection in Tanzania and Uganda. 

This series of curriculum workshops was developed through a collaboration between Catholic Relief Services and REPSSI in  South Africa. It is designed for communities wishing to support children in need and their caregivers. It includes a facilitator training guide, community implementation guide, and guides on protecting children from trafficking and abuse. By taking them through their own life journey, participants are better able to understand the problems facing children in their care and in their community. Resource mapping and action plans provide communities with an opportunity to identify their capacities and begin to act on their collective responsibility towards these children.

This article, from the journal of Institutionalized Children Explorations and Beyond, is an analysis of a state-sponsored family-strengthening scheme in Rajasthan, India, the Palanhar Yojana. The article analyzes the assessment survey of about 366 Palanhar Yojana (Caregiver Scheme) beneficiary families in the city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, with the aim of creating an evidence-based foundation on which to design community-oriented family preservation/strengthening services. The article offers a concept for a family strengthening model as derived from the results of the survey. 

The global Nurturing Care Framework, launched in May 2018, was created in response to strong evidence and growing recognition that the early years are critical for human development. The Framework was developed by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, the Early Childhood Development Action Network and many other partners. The Framework provides an evidence-based road map for action and outlines how policies and services, including those in the health sector, can support parents, families, other caregivers and communities in providing nurturing care for young children. It calls for attention to be paid to communities where children are most at risk of being left behind. The framework focuses on the first 1000 days of a child's life. 

This study, published in the Child Abuse & Neglect journal, is the first randomized controlled trial design to rigorously test the effectiveness of a parenting program on reducing the risk of child maltreatment in sub-Saharan Africa using both observational and self-report assessments.  Also unique to this study is the extreme vulnerability of the 68 parent-child dyads (children ages 3-8) with high percentages reporting unemployment, hunger and poor health status, including HIV. Participant retention in the intervention, the Sinovuyo Caring Families Program for Young Children, was also high. While the results indicated moderate effects on improving positive parenting, the results on reducing harsh punishment and positive child behavior were mixed and inconclusive. Authors recommend strengthening the program components related to child behavior management and increasing the sample size to sufficiently power the study to determine program effectiveness.

This brief brings together the critical mass of evidence emerging from recent rigorous impact evaluations of government-run cash transfer programs in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These assessments have been developed under the PtoP initiative, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and UNICEF in partnership with national governments and research organizations. The brief includes assessments of those cash transfer programs designed to support households caring for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), such as Kenya's Cash Transfers for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC). Evidence suggests that cash transfer programs "protect families from falling deeper into poverty" and strengthen families' capacity to care for children.

Understanding the Situation

This study, published in BMJ Global Health, explores findings of a population-based approach to measure the prevalence of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) during the Hurricane Matthew aftermath in HaitiThis study is the first known attempt to measure the prevalence of child separation following a natural disaster. Overall, the rates of separation were relatively low. Similarities between primary and secondary reports of child separation via the Neighborhood Method indicate that this may be a viable approach to measuring UASC in certain contexts.


This report presents the preliminary findings from an ongoing project undertaken by 4Children that seeks to identify key opportunities to incorporate violence prevention and response interventions within priority PEPFAR Program Areas at clinical and community levels. The initial focus is on HIV testing and services (HTS) and pediatric care and treatment - a priority identified at an introductory meeting with selected members of the OVC and Gender Technical Working Group Advisors held in July 2015. The findings presented here draw on conclusions from the introductory meeting, a desk review and over 25 interviews, including 18 country-level key informants covering nine countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report concludes with recommendations and next steps based on the findings.

This report documents a range of abuses against children and adults with disabilities in residential institutions in Brazil. The research is based on direct observations during visits to 19 institutions (known in Brazil as shelters and care homes), including 8 for children, as well as 5 inclusive residences for people with disabilities.  The report provides an overview of the government's response to providing needed care and support to people with disabilities in Brazil and makes recommendations for improving outcomes for people with disabilities, including "developing a time-bound plan to phase out the use of residential institutions for children and adults and develop community-based services for individuals with disabilities and families of children with disabilities."

This study from the journal of Child & Family Social Work sought to gain further understanding of reunification and parenting, including identification of successes and barriers to reunification, and service needs within communities for a First Nations child welfare organization in  Canada seeking to prioritize this work. Participants in the study indicated that placing children with extended family or within home communities facilitates best child outcomes. These reunifications could be increased by promoting parental and community capacity. Successes identified within communities included available supports, such as those that increased empowerment and community capacity. Identified barriers within communities were the lack of culturally appropriate services, hesitancy to obtain available support due to fears of child welfare intervention, and mental health difficulties of community members.

This research is the result of a collaboration between UNHCR, the CPC Learning Network, and TPO Uganda. The report describes the research conducted in 2016 in Kiryandongo and Adjumani refugee settlements in Uganda, presenting a comparison of child protection system strength between 2014/5 and 2016, and child protection outcomes over the same time period. The report also presents key lessons, both in terms of methodology and the child protection situation for adolescent refugees in these refugee settlements in Uganda. This report is part of the Measuring Impact Through a Child Protection Index (CPI) study. 

This Briefing Note outlines the priority areas for the Global Research Agenda, laid out by the Assessment, Measurement and Evidence (AME) Working Group of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action. Research priorities include: cash transfers, family strengthening, serving children with disabilities, engaging the social service workforce in humanitarian settings, and more. The document also outlines the methods and criteria for research.

Policies, Standards & Guidelines

Short Term Missions: Guidance to Support Orphans and Vulnerable Children
The Short-Term Missions: Guidance to Support Orphans and Vulnerable Children from the Faith to Action Initiative is a comprehensive global resource that provides guidance and better practice standards for short-term missions to ensure positive outcomes for vulnerable children, their families, and their communities. This resource has been created for churches, mission agencies, faith-based organizations, donors, institutions of higher learning, and others who are interested in enhancing and supporting care for orphans and vulnerable children through sending or joining short-term mission teams. It encourages short-term missions to shift their focus from engaging with children in residential care centers to engagement in activities that support family-based care.

Child Welfare and the Travel Industry: Global Good Practice Guidelines
The Child Welfare and the Travel Industry: Global Good Practice Guidelines have been developed, by ChildSafe Movement and G Adventures, to provide a common understanding of child welfare issues throughout the travel industry and to provide all travel businesses with guidance to prevent all forms of exploitation and abuse of children that could be related to travelers and the tourism industry. All businesses operating in the tourism sector can use this document as a practical working tool to better understand the main risks they may face by not upholding child welfare practices and the subsequent impacts on children and communities. This tool will help businesses understand what key actions need to be taken to mitigate these risks and provide helpful guidance on how to uphold child welfare across all areas of business, including the supply chain. It also includes some useful real world examples and 7 Tips for initial implementation.

Call to Action: Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs
On May 8, 2018, during the  Social Service Workforce Strengthening Symposium, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance released a Call to Action for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce to Better Protect Children and Achieve the SDGs. It makes recommendations at the country and global level for governments to initiate, lead and engage in dialogue with partners for these efforts. The Alliance is joined by an initial group of 12 organizations, including Better Care Network, in signing on to show support for the Call to Action. We invite your organizations and others to sign on in support by emailing the Alliance with your organization's logo.

This brief reference surveys the national policy of three representative African countries on the legal guardianship of children who are without parents or families. Focusing on the widely varying legal systems of Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa, and Uganda, the authors highlight guardianship as emblematic of the continent's shortcomings in child protection laws. The book's key objective is bridging the communal aspects of traditional African society with the global standards set forth by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international entities. To this end, the three frameworks discussed here are compared and their strengths and limitations evaluated as applied to child protection standards in terms of core guardianship issues.

Learning from Practice

Investing in Innovation - Transformation of the Dominant Care Model: Emerging Practice of Alternative Care for Children in Cambodia Research Findings
Family Care First (FCF) is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported project with the goal of making lasting improvements in the well-being of Cambodia's children. Action 3: Investing in Innovation, one of the projects of FCF, has supported the study and documentation of existing reintegration and alternative family care services in Cambodia, which are provided by civil society organizations (CSOs) throughout Cambodia. This action was designed to build the capacity of existing service providers to take emerging good practice to scale as an increased number of residential care institutions transition. The key findings of this study and documentation suggest that permanency of care provides a greater sense of belonging and independence for children. In addition, the best alternative care for children is usually family or kinship care. The findings also suggested some recommendations regarding partnership, care models, case management, specialized services and further research, monitoring and evaluation.

This case study from Catholic Relief Services'  4Children project is one in a series of case studies highlighting different aspects of a case management system and referral mechanisms utilized by OVC programs. The overall objectives of the case study are to highlight and help promote good practice related to referral mechanisms within orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) programming.  This case study looks at the work of the Children in Distress Network (CINDI) in the uMgungundlovu District of KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN) of  South Africa . The work was not an assessment or evaluation of the May'khethele (My Life, My Future) Program but rather an opportunity to see the model of referral in action and to speak with those using and benefitting from its existence.

This study examined the extent to which professional foster families fulfill their tasks to reintegrate families, what attitudes professional foster families assume towards the idea of reintegration, and to what extent and how professional foster families support a child separated from his or her family and parents in the process of reintegration. 
The research examined case studies of a sample of 58 professional foster families functioning as emergency shelter families in the Province of Silesia, Poland. The study found that most Polish professional foster families assume a negative attitude towards reintegration. The result of such attitudes is that foster parents make it difficult, in a variety of ways, for the biological parents to contact their child placed in foster care. 



In this issue, we highlight the care-related Concluding Observations adopted by the  Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at its  19th Session held 14 February - 9 March 2018, with a particular focus on sections addressing children's care.
Click below to read the Country Care Reviews for the following countries:


Finding foster families for street connected children
In this video, Dinah Mwesigye, a social worker at Retrak in Kampala, Uganda, describes the process of finding foster families for street-connected children who are not able to be reunified with their biological families. This video is one within a series of videos produced by Child's i Foundation and Better Care Network.  View the accompanying one-page discussion paper with video summary, discussion points, and suggestions for further reading.

Best Gift To A Child is Family
This video from Mtoto News features interviews with several experts in the field of children's care and protection who discuss the importance of deinstitutionalization, particularly in the Eastern and Southern Africa context, and efforts being made to reduce or end the institutionalization of children.


BBC Indonesia, 3 June 2018

Washington Post, 27 May 2018

The Guardian, 22 May 2018

The Guardian, 22 May 2018

Indian Express,  20 May 2018

AllAfrica, 16 May 2018

ABS-CBN News,  9 May 2018

Sunday Guardian,  7 May 2018

Thomson Reuters Foundation,  3 May 2018

NIGERIA: Nigeria 'baby factory' raided in Lagos 
BBC News,  26 April 2018

Times of Malta,  23 April 2018


14 June 2018, UN Headquarters

26 June 2018

4-7 July 2018, Dublin, Ireland

ISPCAN XXII International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect
2-5 September 2018, Prague, Czech Republic 
World Vision Safeguarding Advisor
Application deadline is 20 June 2018

CELCIS International Associate
Application deadline is 6 July 2018

Global Director, Changing the Way We Care (CTWWC)
No application deadline provided
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