May 2019
Special Issue on Alternative Care and Criminalization
" I think the environmental circumstances are the deciding factor. If a young person has got no sort of prospects, if they are not being paid attention to, if they are not being treated like children they are being treated like animals then they are going to behave like animals. It’s that simple. And, care homes treat children like animals.”

- Eddie, a young person in residential care, from This is Our Story

“It was basically just anger like I was really angry and I was screaming and I was shouting. Okay, they probably did think I was being aggressive. But did that actually injure anybody? Did I actually break anything of value? No … They couldn’t handle the way I was feeling, they just called the police."

- Jodie, a young person in residential care, from This is Our Story
Are you a practitioner working with children and families? We'd love to hear from you! Are you a program manager or someone who supervises frontline workers? We'd love your help in encouraging the practitioners you work with to give us their feedback! Please help us by answering the questions in this 10-20 minute survey, and disseminating the survey widely, so that we can learn more about the needs of practitioners .

BCN is trying to find out more about how practitioners and local frontline workers access and use information on a day-to-day basis, and how they build expertise and skills, in order to better support them in their work. In particular, we are interested in whether and how online access to information can help with this.

Those willing to assist by surveying practitioners in their networks or conducting in-person focus groups, and those interested in learning more, please email .

Take the Survey here .

New Free Online Course

With the aim of improving provision of suitable care and the manner in which it is offered, the Caring for Children Moving Alone MOOC Taskforce (including BCN) has created a specialized Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). This MOOC aims to increase the knowledge and support improved practice of front line workers and others who make decisions about the care and best interest of children on the move every day.

Focus on Alternative Care and Criminalization
In this focus section of the newsletter, we highlight recent research regarding the criminalization of children and young people with experience of alternative care. The literature featured here indicates that children in out-of-home care in many countries have higher rates of criminal justice involvement , either while in care or after they have left care, than do their peers. For example, in the UK, looked after children (who have been looked after for at least 12 months) are five times more likely to offend than all children, according to the Department for Education.  Furthermore, several studies listed below have found that children in more restrictive care settings, such as residential care, have higher rates of criminalization than children in less restrictive types of care such as kinship or foster care.

While the resources in this focus section describe research conducted only in high-income countries, primarily in Northern Europe, North America, and Australia, the findings are nonetheless relevant to other contexts as they point to the ways in which placement in alternative care can be associated with a higher likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system and the impacts of different children's care settings on longer-term outcomes such as criminalization.

This guidance from the UK 's Department for Education presents a framework to help social care and criminal justice agencies keep looked-after children out of the criminal justice system.

Related Topics: Foster Care

This report presents the findings arising from a small-scale exploratory study commissioned by Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) that aimed to explore the extent to which children with care experience are over-represented in the Irish youth justice system.

In this study from the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology , the authors interviewed 46 professionals who had contact with young people in residential care settings in New South Wales, Australia about their perceptions of the link between residential care and contact with the criminal justice system.

Related Topics: Foster Care, Residential Care
This paper from the Children and Youth Services Review discusses the struggles of young women who are “crossover youth” in the US . Crossover youth are children who are simultaneously involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

Related Topics: Foster Care

This is the first in a series of briefings from the Howard League for Penal Reform published alongside a programme of research and campaign work to end the criminalisation of children living in residential care. The project builds on from research published in March 2016, which found that children living in children’s homes in the UK were being criminalised at much higher rates than other children, including those in other types of care.

Related Topics: Residential Care

This is the second briefing paper published as part of the Howard League’s two-year programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care in the UK . It explores how good practice in the policing of children’s homes can significantly reduce the unnecessary criminalisation of vulnerable children and demand on police resources.

Related Topics: Residential Care

This briefing paper is part of a series from the Howard League that explores some core principles to help protect children in residential care in the UK from criminalisation. 

Related Topics: Residential Care

This briefing, part of a series from the Howard League, tells the anonymised stories of four children and young people in the UK who have been criminalised in residential care, in their own words.

Dually-involved youth represent a population of youth who receive some level of supervision from both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems concurrently. The current study from the Children and Youth Services Review examined education-related risk factors, recidivism, referrals for services, and service access among dually-involved youth in Los Angeles County, US .

Related Topics: Foster Care
This article from the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology describes the findings of a four-year study with a cohort of children in out-of-home care in New South Wales, Australia and their experiences with the criminal justice system. 

This study from the Children and Youth Services Review documents the rates at which children involved with foster care [in the United States ] enter the juvenile justice system (crossover or dually involved), and the factors associated with this risk. 

This PhD thesis focuses on the perceptions of children in care whilst they are still in care and subject to youth justice supervision. The findings are based on semi-structured interviews with 19 children in care attending various Youth Offending Teams in the North West of England

Related Topics: Foster Care, Child Participation
This study from the Children and Youth Services Review sought to distinguish youth in the  US child welfare system who became involved with the justice system from youth who did not become involved with the justice system based on the youth's protective factors and their caregivers' parenting skills.

This article from the  Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care highlights a range of factors which can support good quality, consistent and confident decision making, towards the aim of ensuring that care leavers' contact with police is avoided unless absolutely necessary.

This report from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center of the United States highlights the connections between US immigration policy and the child welfare system, particularly the criminalization of undocumented immigrants and its impact on foster care in the US.

This brief from the Urban Institute summarizes insights drawn from Community of Practice conversations and provides recommendations for local governments, service providers, and other partners considering Pay for success (PFS) as a tool for financing interventions serving transitional youth in the US , who experience more interactions than average with the criminal justice system, among other issues. In this brief, the term “transitional youth” refers to youth who have been involved with foster care and who might also be involved in the juvenile justice system through probation or detention. 

To inform decisions about permanent care arrangements, the authors of this study from Developmental Child Welfare used Swedish national population registers to create a sibling population consisting of 194 children born 1973–1982 who had been in out-of-home care (OHC) at least 5 years before adolescence but were never adopted (50% boys) and their 177 maternal birth siblings who also had been in OHC at least 5 years before their teens but were adopted before adolescence (52.5% boys). Results showed that adopted siblings tended to have considerably better outcomes in a range of outcomes, including criminality.

The present systematic review from the Children and Youth Services Review examines the current literature on the association between out-of-home placement and offending behavior among youth with Child Protection Services maltreatment reports in the US .

"Thousands of Stolen Generation children [in Australia ], some just babies, have had their lives permanently affected after they were charged and given criminal records under state government policies that systematically deemed it a crime to be an Indigenous child in ‘need of protection,'" says this investigative report from NITV. Read also: Stolen, imprisoned, given a criminal record: Australia’s shameful treatment of the Stolen Generations revealed

Using a bevy of administrative data, this article from the Children and Youth Services Review investigates potential risk and protective factors of youth (n = 1420) who aged out of foster care without legal permanency in a southwestern state of the US .

This study from the International Journal of Population Data Science  linked Child and Family Services (CFS), Justice, and Population Health Registry data to quantify the overlap between having a history of CFS during childhood (0-17 years) and being charged with a crime as a youth (12-17 years) for young people in Manitoba, Canada .

This study from the Lancet  aimed to compare the rates of psychiatric diagnoses and criminal convictions in young adulthood (ages 18–25 years) among children who were first placed in care in Finland at ages 2–6 years with those of children who were not placed in care and who had similar sociodemographic and family characteristics.

This article from the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice presents qualitative data from interviews with 46 welfare and justice professionals to examine the criminalisation of children who go missing within the Out‐Of‐Home‐Care (OOHC) residential environment in Australia .

Related Topics: Foster Care, Residential Care
The objective of this study from BMJ Open was to investigate whether men and women in the UK who were looked-after (in public care) or adopted as children are at increased risk of adverse psychological and social outcomes, including criminal convictions, in adulthood.

Understanding the Situation

This 4th annual report from the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance includes a multi-country, four region review of the state of the social service workforce. Through Alliance-led mappings and assessments in three regions in collaboration with UNICEF, and information from mappings and assessments in a fourth region, this report consolidates trends and data and makes recommendations for better planning, development and support to this frontline workforce.

This paper from Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence examines the development and proliferation of baby-selling centers in southern Nigeria and its impacts on and implication for women in Nigeria. It demonstrates how an attempt to give protection to unwed pregnant girls has metamorphosed into “baby harvesting” and selling through the notorious “baby factories,” where young women are held captive and used like industrial machines for baby production.

This paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology summarises the processes by which children become vulnerable to sexual exploitation and related harms within or facilitated by orphanages in Southeast Asia .

This study from Migration Letters highlights the plight of children in state orphanages in Bosnia during conditions of war and its aftermath, in order to explore how state narratives trap children between contested notions of the best interests of the child, national belonging, and familial rights.

In this data snapshot, the Annie E. Casey Foundation examines how placements for young people in foster care in the US have changed from 2007 to 2017.

In this paper from Fiat Iustitia , the authors analyze the national regulatory framework of the Republic of Moldova in light of its compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in the context of commitments made in support of young people who leave the alternative care on the grounds of age.

This study from the Children and Youth Services Review reports on a qualitative investigation involving 15 young kinship care alumni in Ghana to explore what kinship caregivers' unpreparedness means and what causes them to be unprepared.

Related Topics: Kinship Care
Policies, Standards, and Guidelines
This tool provides practical suggestions and guidance to support professionals working in family court in Ireland in communicating with children in court. The tool includes guidance on how to question children and how to ensure they are involved in decision-making and that their voices are heard.

Related Topics: Child Participation

This guide from the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) outlines the five steps to help transition an organization's donors to improve fundraising outcomes and create the financial capacity to provide better care for vulnerable children and families, based on CAFO's research on how OVC-serving organizations inspired donors to give toward a new model of family-based care.

These guidelines, produced by UNICEF and the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance are informed by evidence of ‘what works’ and lessons learned in the field. They are designed to accelerate UNICEF regional and country offices’ programming on social service workforce strengthening, and support work to better plan, develop and support the social services workforce with national and regional partners.

Learning from Practice

Catalyzing Business Skills is a suite of three financial literacy and business skills curricula developed by Making Cents International and Child Fund's Economic Strengthening to Keep and Reintegrate Children into Families (ESFAM) project in Uganda . They are accompanied by a follow-on coaching guide for parasocial workers to use with caregivers or children and youth at home.

As technology enhancements effectively augment family-based interventions, the purpose of this study from the Children and Youth Services Review was to pilot a smartphone application (app) in the context of a trauma and behavior management-informed training for foster and kinship caregivers in the US .

Related Topics: Foster Care
This research from the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal investigated the psychosocial-support provision for learners from child-headed households (CHHs) in five public high schools in South Africa . The results of this study highlight the importance of implementing trauma-informed approach in supporting learners from CHHs.

This paper presents an overview of ChildHub, a peer learning and capacity-building network for child protection professionals initially developed and deployed in South-East Europe , and outlines a proposal for contextualizing ChildHub to Africa and South Asia .

This paper from the journal of Global Social Welfare describes the development of an evidence-informed family therapy intervention designed for lay counselor delivery in low-resource settings and presents findings on the feasibility and acceptability of implementation in Kenya .

In this issue, we highlight the care-related Concluding Observations adopted by the  Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  at its  21st session  held
11 March - 5 April 2019, with a particular focus on sections addressing children's care.
Click below to read the Country Care Reviews for the following countries:

This video provides a short summary of the INSPIRE objectives and goals, strategies, measures to be implemented, and good practices to develop across the globe.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect

This webinar, hosted by the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, aimed to discuss the newly released report, “ Cash Transfer Programming and Child Protection in Humanitarian Action: Review and Opportunities to Strengthen the Evidence .” After a brief update on the report, members from Plan International highlighted a research initiative that involves cash transfers to children and their families alongside child protection services in the Central African Republic  to illustrate how to practically take forward some of the recommendations in the report.

With efforts underway at the international level to reconcile different approaches to the right of the child to grow up in a family – in the CRPD, CRC and the UN Guidelines – this webinar, hosted by the European Network on Independent Living & Disability Rights International, addressed some of the following questions: how to ensure every child can grow up in a family, is residential care justified in any circumstance, how to ensure that children growing up in group homes and other residential care settings are given an opportunity to access family-based care, and the right to independent living.

This video presents the full recording of the 6th Annual Global Social Service Workforce Symposium held 7 May 2019, including keynote address, panel discussions, and Q&As. The Symposium provided a forum for practitioners, government representatives, scholars and other experts from around the world to discuss efforts to strengthen the social service workforce.

8-10 May 2019
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
16 May 2019
27 May 2019
17 June 2019
18-19 June 2019
24 June 2019
2 July 2019
Durban, South Africa
Job Postings and Opportunities

8 May 2019
9 May 2019
24 May 2019
30 June 2019

Newsletter participants, currently 4,250 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  or visit our website at  

Thank you!

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