June 2019
Issue on Child and Youth Participation and Perspectives
"They decided my needs amongst themselves and then told me what they were."

- A child in alternative care, from Effective Participation of Children and Young People in Alternative Care Settings: Guidance for Policy Makers

"I get angry … They think they know what is the best for me, but they don’t know what is the best for me, because it is not their life…”

- Young person in alternative care in Sweden, from Effective Participation of Children and Young People in Alternative Care Settings: Guidance for Policy Makers
New Strategy for Children in Adversity Launched by U.S. Government

On Monday 17 June 2019, the U.S. Government launched its new five-year Strategy to advance protection and care for the world’s most vulnerable children worldwide. USAID organized and hosted the launch event, with other U.S. Government partner agencies involved in the Strategy's implementation. A commitment was made to finalize an implementation plan within 180 days.

The goal of the Strategy is to ensure the U.S. Government’s investments for the most-vulnerable children and families around the world are comprehensive, coordinated, and effective in helping place partner countries on a Journey to Self-Reliance by which they can sustainably finance, manage, and deliver services that lead to stable, resilient, and prosperous families and communities.

The Strategy includes three primary objectives:
(1) Build Strong Beginnings
(2) Put Family First
(3) Protect Children from Violence

The Strategy and other resources are available on the new Children in Adversity website here .

In this blog post for Medium, Sarah Gesiriech, the U.S. Government Special Advisor on Children in Adversity, shares the U.S. Government's whole-of-government commitment to investing in the development, care, dignity, and safety of the world’s most vulnerable children as laid out in  Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity: A U.S. Government Strategy for International Assistance (APCCA) .
The Partnerships Plus project invites qualified local and/or U.S.-based organizations, private voluntary organizations, non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, or universities to submit a Concept Paper as a first step in a competitive process for Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity (Protect and Care) to support the achievement of the Objectives established in the U.S. Government Strategy on Children in Adversity.
Focus on Child and Youth Participation and Perspectives
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.

This snapshot from Coram Voice summarises the findings from the responses of 474 16-25 year old care leavers who completed the Your Life Beyond Care (YLBC) survey in 6 local authorities in England . This snapshot gives an insight into how care leavers really feel about their lives.

In order to address the need for evidence-based research about the care leaver experience, a study was facilitated by the Uganda Care Leavers project to conduct peer-led participatory workshops throughout the country. These care leavers, identified by local community leaders and networks, were invited to participate in workshops where they completed surveys about their experiences, the results of which are presented in this report along with recommendations and suggestions for future care reform.

This open access paper from Health Expectations reports on experiences and reflections of a group of children and young people and academic researchers who developed a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group that was set up in the context of an ongoing health service intervention trial with looked after children and care leavers (denoted as LAC) in the UK .

The aim of this study from the Children and Youth Services Review  was to ask youth in the Netherlands how they experience the impact of traumas prior to living in a foster family.

This paper from the journal of Child & Youth Services presents the results from a Youth Lead Project on the voices and participation of children in state care in Ontario Canada .

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
This article from the International Journal of Children's Rights examines the practice of child-centered principles in the UK child protection and public child law systems.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
This is a pilot study on the sensitive issue of how children and young people experience family contact in foster care in Portugal , and the views of key adults in their lives on the same issue.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
As part of a 3‐year U.S. federal project of family group conferences (FGCs) in one jurisdiction, this study collected fidelity data from professional and family member participants of FGCs, including children and young people. Descriptive data from a small sample of child and young people participating in FGC suggest differences in their perspectives regarding family empowerment, transparency, and inclusion in decision making, when compared with the perspectives of other family members and professionals for whom data are available.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
In this study from the journal of Child Abuse & Neglect , the participation of children in the Dutch child protection system (CPS) under the new Youth Act 2015 is critically analyzed. The study found that, while the Youth Act promotes child and parent participation in the youth care system, children were still not informed well enough or heard out in legal procedures that concerned them.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
This article from the Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care presents the findings of the Questionnaire to Assess Needs of Children in Care (QANCC), a tool designed to gather children's direct input on the management of Udayan Care's care homes in India .

This book presents the stories of youth in care, in interviews and in conversations with other youth. By using tools from conversation analysis (CA), the author examines interviews with youth in care and social workers to help the reader grasp the ways that a youth’s story emerges turn by turn, and is an artefact of a social relation between a youth and an interviewer.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care

This evaluation study by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland Galway focuses on the implementation of, and the outcomes from, the Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS), a programme of action being undertaken by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency of  Ireland .

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care

Relationships Matter for Youth 'Aging Out' of Care is a collaborative photovoice project led by Melanie Doucet, who is a former youth in care, alongside eight former youth in care between the ages of 19 and 29 from the Greater Vancouver, Canada area. Using images captured by the young co-researchers and their accompanying captions, the report takes a closer look at meaningful supportive relationships in the lives of young people in and from care, and how those relationships can be developed and nurtured over time.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
This article from the journal of Qualitative Social Work aims to provide a detailed account and reflection of the involvement of care leavers as peer researchers in the qualitative case study phase of a three-year, mixed method study of the transitions of young people leaving care in Northern Ireland .

This quantitative study from Child & Family Social Work contributes knowledge regarding the attitude of professionals towards positive parenting and child participation in the professional support of families that are under temporary protection in Spain , with the goal of reunification.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
This paper presents community dialogues as a participatory research and program development strategy through which developmental scientists and local community partners can collaboratively surface, discuss, address, and evaluate child protection and well-being issues in their communities. The paper details the authors' experience with a case study from Shinyanga, Tanzania , in which community-based organizations worked with adults and children to collaboratively surface and discuss child protection issues in their communities.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
This article from Adoption & Fostering discusses a key meeting for children in care – the Child in Care Review – and examines the extent to which children and young people are able to participate and exert a level of control over their lives. The research, conducted in England , formed part of a wider exploration of the views and experiences of all those involved in such reviews, namely Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs), social workers, senior managers and – the focus of this article – the young people concerned.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care

This collection of poetry and writing from Coram BAAF throws the spotlight on living 'in care' - a subject rarely explored in literature and yet experienced by more than 60,000 children in the UK every year. The 30 entries by children and young people, aged from nine to 24 years old, reflect on a range of feelings about leaving the familiarity of family and home, starting afresh, dealing with changes, being 'lost and found', feeling loved, and what being in care has meant for them. 

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care

This video from the International Youth Foundation presents an exchange of lessons and experiences between youth and adult representatives of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation in the United States and Doncel Asociación Civil in Argentina , highlighting authentic youth engagement in addressing the needs of former foster youth.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
This open access research paper from the Child Abuse Review examines the influence of children, birth parents and foster carers in the Netherlands on the matching decision from a practitioner's perspective.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
In this study from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence , adolescents aged 17 years, involved in the U.S. foster care system and age-matched non-foster youth rated "how good or bad the foster care/dependency court is for foster youth," testing the prediction that foster youth who perceive having more opportunity for voice, even indirectly via a representative, will more favorably rate the system.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care
In this study from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, the authors surveyed one hundred 4- to 11-year-olds removed from home in the U.S. because of maltreatment about their placement preferences. These results suggest that young children may express more mature preferences than recognized by the law, and that there may be value in asking even relatively young children about with whom they would like to live following removal from home as a result of maltreatment.

Related Topics: Child Participation, Foster Care

Latest Research on the Effects of Institutionalization on Children's Development and Well-being
In a sample of 136 Romanian children from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP), who were exposed to early psychosocial deprivation in the form of institutional care, the authors of this study from the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology examined caregiver-reported and observer-rated signs of disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED).

In this article from the journal of Developmental Science, the authors present findings from a follow‐up assessment from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) in Romania - the first longitudinal study to investigate the neurodevelopment of institutionalized infants randomized to a foster care (FCG) intervention versus care as usual (CAUG) - of brain electrical activity as indexed by resting EEG at age 16 years.

This study from Frontiers in Psychiatry aimed at investigating specifically whether institutionalization impacts negatively children’s psychological adjustment defined in terms of externalizing behavior, internalizing behavior and self-esteem and whether having living parents has additional influence. Ninety-five institutionalized and 82 not institutionalized children in Rwanda , aged 9 to 16, participated in the study.

The aim of this study is to compare the subjective well-being (SWB) of children hosted in institutions and in foster families with the well-being of children living with their families in Portugal . Results indicate that children in residential care have a lower SWB in all variables compared to foster care and general populations groups.

This open access study from Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience examines how deprivation (including institutionalization) and threat are associated with cognitive and emotional outcomes in early childhood.

This talk, given by Dr Charles Nelson, focuses on two strands of work that reflect very different types of adversity: (1) the effects of early, profound psychosocial deprivation (including a review of the most recent findings from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a randomized controlled trial of foster care as an intervention for early institutionalization in Romania ) and (2) the effects of growing up in a low resource urban center where children are exposed to a large number of both biological (e.g., malnutrition) and psychosocial (maltreatment) stressors (including a review of recent findings from a large study taking place in Dhaka, Bangladesh ).

The objectives of this open access study were to investigate the association between parental visitation and depressive symptoms among institutionalized children in Japan , and to explore whether the established security of attachment interacts with that association.

Related Topics: Residential Care
Understanding the Situation

This paper from the Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care describes the findings of a geographical mapping and analysis of residential care facilities in four regions of Ghana . Read also: Analysis of Current Trends, Flows and Drivers of Children Residing in Residential Care Institutions in “Hot Spot” Mapping Districts

Related Topics: Residential Care

This report from Comhlámh and the Volunteering and Orphanages Working Group (OWG) explores the negative impacts of institutionalization on children and the negative impacts of volunteering in orphanages, including the proliferation of orphanages and perpetuation of family separation to satisfy volunteer demands, highlighting recommendations directed at Irish government agencies and other organizations. The report also includes profiles of the situation in Nepal , Haiti , and Cambodia .

Using a phenomenological approach, this qualitative study from the journal of Social Science & Medicine explores the contexts of institutional placement of children in Azerbaijan from their caregivers' perspectives. Findings reveal multiple, gendered pathways that contribute to such placement. The majority of caregivers were single mothers, many of whom had divorced their husbands in response to domestic violence (often attributed to the husband's substance addiction). 

This report from RISE Institute presents the findings of a global survey designed to map current implementation of Inclusive Early Childhood Development (IECD) and Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) programs, among other objectives, and outlines recommendations based on those findings. The report's recommendations urge IECD and ECI programs to include family strengthening, prevention of institutionalization, and support for deinstitutionalization of young children in their program objectives.

Disability Rights International (DRI) carried out two investigation trips to Baja California, Mexico , in November 2018 and February 2019, visiting four residential, private institutions for children and adults – including migrants - with disabilities. This report presents the findings from these investigations.

This open access review from the Journal of Child and Family Studies presents evidence for family- and parent-focused interventions on mental health outcomes for children and youth in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and identifies treatment components present in promising interventions.

This article from the British Journal of Social Work initiates the conversation on the conceptualisation of child neglect in Namibia , reporting findings from a small study undertaken in 2017. This article offers insights into the social construction of child neglect amongst indigenous communities in Namibia, identifying a need for knowledge gathering into broader aspects of child health and well-being within Namibia’s diverse indigenous peoples.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
This open access article explores three related phenomena: first, the abandonment and institutionalization of children with disabilities in China that increased disproportionately in the 2000s; second, the important relationships between such abandonments, culture, economics, and politics in contemporary China; and third, the relationship between such abandonments, the increasing rates at which Chinese orphans with disabilities are being adopted to Western countries through Inter-country Adoption (ICA), and the global politics of ICA and disability.

The aim of this study from the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine was to assess and compare emotional and behavioral problems between left-behind children (LBC) and non-LBC in Indonesia .

Related Topics: Children and Migration
Policies, Standards, and Guidelines

This volume provides readers around the globe with a focused and comprehensive examination of how to prevent and respond to child maltreatment using evidence-informed public health approaches and programs that meet the needs of vulnerable children, and struggling families and communities. Detailed guidance is provided about how to re-think earlier intervention strategies, and establish stronger and more effective programs and services that prevent maltreatment at the population level, highlighting how public health approaches can better support families and keep children safe.

Learning from Practice

The purpose of this toolkit, developed by the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, is to guide participatory, national level analyses of the social service workforce. This toolkit serves as a step-by-step, how-to guide for a national workforce mapping process and packages tips, key considerations, sample tools, terms of reference and other guidance. 

This paper from the Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care outlines the Child Rescue Centre's process of transitioning from residential care to family-based care in Sierra Leone .

This qualitative case study from Children & Society explores the challenges facing children reunified with their families from an orphanage in Ghana .

This webinar includes presentations from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines , sharing experiences designing, managing and evaluating parenting interventions to reduce violence against children and adolescents by parents and caregivers.

Simple  serve and return interactions  between adults and young children help make strong connections in developing brains. This how-to video from the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University breaks down serve and return into  5 simple steps and features adults and young children doing each step together.

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Newsletter participants, currently 4,263 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.  

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