May 2020
Focus on Child Neglect
‘I believe that everybody has the right to appropriate support to parent their children effectively. And if they have had access to that and things haven't worked out, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have the opportunity to try again with different, more...differently shaped support, or whatever, as long as the child is safe in the meantime. I think people can change. People can change. And also that sometimes where people talk about having a second chance, it's because the first chance wasn't appropriately supported in the first place, and that was why things went wrong. So yes, I do believe in second chances.’ 

- A Health Visitor providing specialist services for parents with learning disabilities, from Understanding ‘Successful Practice/s’ with Parents with Learning Difficulties when there are Concerns about Child Neglect: the Contribution of Social Practice Theory


This month's edition of the BCN newsletter focuses on child neglect and features a Special journal issue of Child Indicators Research , along with other publications addressing the topic in a variety of settings around the globe. Articles in the Special issue present international, interdisciplinary conceptualizations and analysis of the determinants, consequences, and measures of child neglect, the most common type of child maltreatment in many countries. Despite its lifelong negative consequences for children, families, and societies, child neglect still receives limited scientific and public attention.
Encompassing a range of situations in which the basic needs of children are not met, child neglect is characterized by the breakdown of the social organization around children and parents . Factors such as poverty, mental health issues, and family stress often compromise families’ ability to care for children, thus increasing the risk of neglect.
The severity of the immediate and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis on families and on the systems of support available to them cannot therefore be ignored. Children with parents or primary caregivers who are ill or hospitalized may be left without appropriate care or supervision. Mobility restrictions and fear may disrupt customary care by the extended family or community members. Parents who are ‘essential’ workers and those who have no choice but to go out to work and cannot access day care for their children are left in impossible situations. Rising unemployment and poor working conditions (e.g., lack of paid sick leave) can interfere with the provision of adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, and supervision.
Measures to prevent child neglect and to strengthen families and communities will have to be broader and probably deeper than ever before. They must put children at the centre, listen to families, and consider the wider socio-economic, cultural, and political conditions within which parents and other caregivers operate. States’ obligation to provide appropriate assistance to families so that they can fulfill their child-rearing responsibilities and strong multi-sectoral coordination will be key.
Child neglect will be a critical area of attention for practitioners, policymakers, and other actors in the care sector in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and its longer-term impacts. And it will be crucial to center future efforts on research and documentation in this area to support evidence-based practice and responses. This newsletter issue aims to bring focus to the topic, highlighting recent studies and other resources that seek to understand child neglect and the interventions that address or prevent it from occurring.
Mónica Ruiz-Casares
Associate Professor, McGill University
Florence Martin
Director, Better Care Network

The Better Care Network will continue to share tools, guidance, information, and other resources regarding children's care and protection during the COVID-19 pandemic as practitioners, policymakers, and other key stakeholders work to respond to the needs of children and families impacted by this crisis. For more resources on COVID-19 and children's care, visit the growing collection of documents in the

The aim of this webinar - hosted by the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, Better Care Network, and UNICEF - was to elaborate on the  Technical Note in support of child protection practitioners and government officials in their immediate response to the child protection concerns faced by children who are at risk of separation or in alternative care during COVID-19 pandemic . The webinar featured an overview of the technical note and three country-specific presentations on Syria , Kenya , and Ethiopia

This Inter-Agency Technical Note, which aims to support child protection practitioners and government officials in their immediate response to the child protection concerns faced by children who are at risk of separation or in alternative care during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now available in several languages, including Spanish . More translations are forthcoming.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has released this policy brief identifying three main channels through which children are affected by the COVID-19 crisis and identifies a series of immediate and sustained actions for the attention of governments and policymakers.

A coalition of six disability rights organisations - Validity Foundation, European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), International Disability Alliance (IDA), Disability Rights International (DRI), Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, and International Disability and Development Consortium - has launched a major international monitoring initiative entitled “COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor” to conduct rapid independent monitoring of state measures concerning persons with disabilities. 

This technical note from the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, End Violence Against Children, UNICEF, and WHO, which is informed by reports from the field, examines issues that children may face as countries implement lockdowns and stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This document from the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, UNICEF, International Federation of Social Workers, and the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action is intended to provide guidance on how to support the social service workforce and empower them to safely serve children, families, and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This practice briefing from the Martin James Foundation aims to support carers and practitioners to talk and listen to children and young people in alternative care about Covid-19.

This guidance is for Save the Children staff and partners already running Interim Care Centres (ICCs) during the Covid-19 pandemic. It covers all children in need of emergency interim care (temporary care from caregivers outside their family) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This document from Save the Children provides programme guidance across numerous migrants and displaced (M&D) children contexts.

The present policy brief from the UN Network on Migration's Working Group on Alternatives to Immigration Detention aims to provide practical guidance to States and other stakeholders in preventing and responding to COVID-19 in the context of immigration detention, including the detention of unaccompanied and separated children, highlighting instances of promising practices as useful models to draw from.

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. This microsite features resources and research projects covering a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies. 

This inter-agency technical note calls for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) to be integrated into the response to COVID-19.

In this Guiding Note, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) expresses its grave concern on the ongoing global outbreak of COVID-19 virus and strongly recommends Members States of the African Union integrate child protection measures in their responses to the global pandemic of COVID-19.

UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO) designed a brief online survey to take stock of what national authorities are doing to adjust national child protection systems and services in the wake of COVID 19. This report aims to synthesizes the responses across the region; support national and international child protection agencies, organizations and authorities to identify promising practices, challenges, risks and opportunities; and promote exchange of experience and practices across the region and globally.

This guidance from Save the Children, Government of Canada, and UNICEF - written in English and Burmese - has been designed to ensure the care of children affected by COVID-19 in Myanmar due to either the child or caregiver requiring medical care in the home, community or health facility. Read also: Child Protection Case Management Guidance During COVID-19

This report presents a review of published literature and consultation with current foster and kinship carers to examine impacts of COVID-19 on out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia , highlighting the likelihood of increased service strain.

This Guideline from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) aims to provide technical guidance to child protection workers in Cambodia to better respond to the child protection risks during a COVID-19 pandemic through case management, including psychosocial support.

This webinar hosted by the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children (GPEV) and the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) provides an overview of the issue of nurturing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, with lessons learned from past emergency contexts, current data on the prevalence of violence against children, presentation of guides and strategies to promote the protection of children and country presentations on strategies being currently implemented.

This webinar from ISPCAN features a presentation on a new University of Toronto Policy Bench report,  Child Welfare and Pandemics Literature Scan , including current knowledge of child welfare and pandemics, the impact on children in the Canadian and U.S. child welfare system, potential policy solutions, and the measures taken to control the spread of disease.

This webinar hosted by ISPCAN addresses the risk factors of the current crisis on youth and families, the challenges that professionals like therapists, psychologists, and social workers are facing; and tips and strategies to manage the emotional impact of COVID-19 on youth, families, and professionals using telemedicine and other novel techniques.

Related Topics: Mental Health and COVID-19

In this ISPCAN webinar, Jamie Lachman, co-founder of the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative, provides an overview of the open-source online COVID-19 parenting resources initiative and the current response to COVID-19, including a presentation of current resources to promote child protection and different strategies that are being used to disseminate them worldwide.

Este webinar por RELAF se trata sobre la preparación y acompañamiento de los niños y niñas en hogares de acogida y familias de acogida, los contactos con sus familias y amigos, manejo de la información, entre otros temas. También por RELAF: Webinar: Participación de niños, niñas y adolescentes en cuidado alternativo. Herramientas terapéuticas para la contingencia del COVID-19

Focus on Child Neglect

Following the 6th Conference of the International Society for Child Indicators (Montreal, 2017), this Special Issue of Child Indicators Research - guest edited by Mónica Ruiz-Casares, Carl Lacharité and Florence Martin - was compiled to advance an interdisciplinary understanding of the complexity of conceptualizations, determinants, consequences, and measurement of child neglect around the world and to highlight the need for reforms in child protection systems. Read Child Neglect Indicators: a Field in Critical Need of Development Globally , the editorial introducing the special issue.

Below are the articles from this special issue, which include studies exploring child neglect in Wales, Jordan, State of Palestine, Ghana, Canada, England, and China,

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
This analysis from the journal of Child Abuse & Neglect assessed the current state of child neglect through much of the world, including its prevalence and efforts to address it.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect

The current study from Nature Communications uses data from a longitudinal randomized controlled trial - the Bucharest Early Intervention Project - to examine whether severe early neglect among children reared in institutions in Romania increases vulnerability to the effects of later stressful life events on externalizing problems in adolescence, and whether social enrichment in the form of high-quality foster care buffers this risk.

The objective of this study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health was to compare the effects of poverty and physical neglect on the development of problematic externalizing and internalizing behaviors, adaptive skills, and school problems among school children in Andalusia, Spain between the ages of 3 and 12.

Considering the importance of preventing and better understanding neglect, the present paper from the Children and Youth Services Review aims to describe and discuss similarities and differences among negligent families in Brazil , comparing them to other families in terms of socioeconomic aspects and risk factors related to neglect.

In this study from the Children and Youth Services Review , the authors aim to help clarify the pathway from parental supervisory neglect to peer victimization through the mediating roles of self-esteem and internalizing problems among adolescents in South Korea .

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
This study from the Journal of Children's Services examined 20 recent serious case reviews that had taken place in England where neglect was a feature. The purpose of this study is to explore the barriers which exist for social workers in England in identifying and responding to neglect in a timely, appropriate and effective manner.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect

This paper from Psicothema presents the results of the first pilot implementation in Spain of SafeCare, a home visiting evidence-based programme for the prevention and treatment of child neglect in families with children aged 0-5 years old.

This study from the Children and Youth Services Review aimed to identify the factors that affect the incidence rate of neglected children in Indonesia by considering the household characteristics. 

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
In this chapter of the Handbook of Emotional Development , the authors discuss animal models that support developmental theories underscoring the importance of the caregiver–infant relationship for emotional development, explore how varying degrees of neglect may be differentially associated with subsequent emotional outcome, and review empirical work in this area from a developmental perspective by addressing how early neglect may impact the development of biological and behavioral mechanisms that underlie emotional functioning across multiple developmental periods.

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.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
Using a qualitative research design, this study from the journal of International Social Work explored 28 Ghanaian practitioners’ and parents’ narratives on the perception and causes of child neglect.

Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect
Understanding the Situation

This study from the special issue of the journal of Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond assesses the present situation of deinstitutionalisation and alternative care arrangements in exile settlements in India , including various cultural and socio-structural factors.

This article from the special issue of the journal of Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond makes a case for investing in families and communities rather than orphanages by putting a spotlight on ECFG member investments in Asia .

This paper from the journal of Social Sciences teases out the range of factors reinforcing Kenya ’s over-reliance on live-in institutions as a child care and child protection model.

Related Topics: Residential Care

This report from the Nordic Welfare Centre surveys different aspects of health of unaccompanied minors who have arrived in the Nordic region.

This paper from the African Journal of Social Work examines the efficacy of extended family system in OVC care and support in the Gutu District of Zimbabwe .

This chapter from the book Biopsychosocial Perspectives and Practices for Addressing Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases attempts to provide readers with content to assist in their understanding of the characteristics, role, and experiences of kinship elderly caregivers of children affected and/or infected by HIV and AIDS in Namibia .

Using a scoping review framework, the authors of this study from the Children and Youth Services Review sought to take stock of the state of the science of the programs and interventions (PIs) currently available for young people who age out of foster care in the U.S.

This research debrief from the Kays Foundation includes the qualitative and quantitative findings from a study of parenting attitudes and practices in coastal Kenya that set out to cast new light on the First 1,000 Days, understanding this life-stage from the vantage point of families and communities. This study has been carried out with the sole purpose of bringing new insights on early childhood and childcare to the EC community, to help improve support for and services to 0–3 year olds. 

Related Topics: Child Development
The authors of this study from the Children and Youth Services Review draw on the decision-making ecology model of judgement and decision making in child protection in Australia to speculate on possible causes of false positive errors in decision making regarding the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.

This study from the journal of Child & Youth Services aims to advance understanding of social workers’ perceptions of the circumstances necessitating and preventing the placement of children with disabilities (CwDs) in institutions in Croatia .

Policies, Standards, and Guidelines

This article from the special issue of the journal of Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond examines the extent to which two key child rights principles enshrined in the Convention have been incorporated into the domestic law of seven South Asian countries ( Afghanistan , Bangladesh , Bhutan , India , Nepal , Pakistan and Sri Lanka ): (a) the obligation to undertake active measures to prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their families and (b) the placing of a child in alternative care as a measure of last resort.

The goal of the current article from the special issue of the journal of Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond is to present the framework of a workshop that guides participants through a series of activities and discussions detailing the transition of a fictional programme to a family-based model of care, and to share the free Facilitator’s Toolkit.

This article from the special issue of the journal of Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond traces the evolution of the recognition of orphanage trafficking broadly, and then focusses on recommendations made by the Australian government following the release of its 2017 Hidden in Plain Sight Report.

This study explores the relationship between a key early intervention policy in England designed to support families with children up to the age of four and the rate at which children are taken into social care.

This study from the Children and Youth Services Review aimed to determine the approach to child welfare in Iran by reviewing Iran ’s laws and macro policies, and analysing them to provide an explicit and comprehensive definition for child welfare.

Learning from Practice

This article from the special issue of the journal of Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond reflects on different programmes and resource components that may be promoted to keep children in India with either their own family or within alternative family care, satisfying the rights of their overall development.

This article from the special issue of the journal of Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond looks at how Miracle Foundation applies principles of trauma-informed care (TIC) at every stage of their work in India : from intake and care at a CCI while awaiting placement, to preparing children and families for transition, and finally to supporting post-placement.

In this article from the Child & Family Social Work journal, the authors draw on case study data from the Australian Baby Makes 3 (BM3) programme to explore factors that promote father engagement in parenting support programmes.

Related Topics: Parenting Support

This paper from the Journal of the British Academy provides insights into the feasibility and lessons learned from rural Kenya in providing Care for Child Development (CCD) training - a community-based initiative to support caregivers to develop stronger relationships with young children and support nurturing care - and supporting its implementation alongside the Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI), a global WHO strategy to promote optimal maternal, infant and young child nutrition at the community level.

In this video from Human Rights Watch, kids talk about the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on children. The crisis has a potentially far-reaching, long-term negative impact on children around the world.

Related Topics: COVID-19

This animated video from Alternative Care Thailand tells the story of a boy in Thailand who is sent to live in an orphanage because his mother feels she is unable to care for him at home, his experiences with volunteers once he arrives at the orphanage, and how the orphanage transitioned to supporting children to live in families.

This documentary film, which accompanies a research debrief from the Kays Foundation on parenting attitudes and practices in coastal Kenya , captures a strand of the research findings, focusing on the central role of mothers in early childhood.

Related Topics: Child Development

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Newsletter participants, currently 4,441 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  

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