Grassroots Economics Foundation's Child Protection Policy and Proceedures¶
Note about this policy template: Grassroots Economic Foundation recognizes child protection is a life-saving priority. Child protection prevention and response mechanisms responses must be established from the start of an intervention, or children's lives and well-being will be put at risk. The most important outcomes of child protection are to prevent violence, abuse and exploitation, and to ensure all children access to protection services, by establishing or supporting national and community-level child protection systems.
_This policy details our Foundation's commitment to Child protection. _
|GE / the Foundation||Grassroots Economics, a registered Foundation.|
|Child||Persons who are under 18 years of age|
|UASC||Unaccompanied and separated children|
|WFCL||Worst forms of child labour e.g. illicit work, work that harms their health, safety or morals|
|Discrimination||Treating an individual and/or group of people less well because of whom or what they are.|
|CRC||Convention for Rights of the Child|
|BIP||Best Interest Procedures|
|BIA||Best Interest Assessment|
|SOP||Standard Operation Procedures|
Protection Objectives ¶
Priority objectives during the first phase of an intervention:
- To ensure that girls and boys are safe where they live, learn and play.
- To strengthen the capacity of children to participate in their own protection.
- To give girls and boys child-friendly access to asylum, refugee and other legal procedures, and to essential documents.
- To ensure that girls and boys with specific needs receive targeted support.
- Best interest of the child
For all decisions related to a child, the best interest of this child should be considered first and foremost. Each child’s best interest should be considered as an individual
All children are equally entitled to all of the rights in the convention. No child should be discriminated on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion, physical abilities, etc
Children are no longer considered just property of their parents; nor are they passive recipients of charity. Children are active rights claimants. Children have the right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
- Survival and Development
Children’s mental, emotional and physical development are interlinked. All rights of children must be realized.
Standards and Frameworks
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Sphere, Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, and its core principles and standards for child protection work (see the diagram below).
- Rights-based approaches, including age, gender, and diversity mainstreaming (AGD).
- The InterAgency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children
- The Children Act (2012) of Kenya
These principles provide definitions and key standards and principles for preventing and responding to family separation, and on working with unaccompanied and separated children. We fully suport the Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action
Risks Affecting Children
- Lack of access to asylum procedures or procedures that are child-friendly. If asylum processes are not child sensitive, children may not be able to exercise their right to seek asylum, or may be put in a position where they are easily exploited by adults.
- Separation from parents and caregivers. Children can become separated from their parents and caregivers before or during flight or while in displacement. They can be sent away, abandoned, or encouraged to live alone (because, for example, their carers believe they will receive more support). UASC are often particularly at risk of violence, exploitation, abuse or neglect.
- Sexual violence and sexual exploitation. Displaced children are particularly at risk of sexual violence and exploitation. A high proportion of survivors of sexual violence are girls, but boys are also affected.
- Mental disorders and psychosocial distress. In contexts of forced displacement, children are exposed to traumatic events as well as high levels of daily stress. Without adequate support, many are likely to develop health issues.
- Children associated with armed forces and armed groups. Refugee and displaced children, especially adolescents who are not in school, may be recruited by armed forces and armed groups. Such children are often exposed to extreme violence and may be abused, exploited, injured or killed.
- Trafficking, smuggling, sale and illegal adoption, inappropriate adoption. Displaced children may be targeted for trafficking, smuggling, sale and illegal adoption. UASC are particularly at risk.
- Physical violence and harmful practices. In displacement, children are at increased risk of domestic violence, abuse and corporal punishment, because their families are under acute strain and community protection mechanisms are disrupted. In their efforts to cope, families may adopt harmful practices, and children may adopt negative coping mechanisms, including substance abuse.
- Child labour. When families lose their income and assets, children are more likely to become involved in the worst forms of child labour (WFCL), such as forced or bonded labour. Children may be used in armed conflicts, trafficked for exploitative work or sexual exploitation, engaged in illicit work, or forced to do work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.
- Dangers and injuries. Children living in insecure or unsafe conditions are at greater risk of injury and disability. When they are in, or travel through, conflict zones, for example, they risk injury from unexploded ordnance and landmines.
- Detention. Particularly in the context of political conflicts, children who participate in political activities (or are perceived to have participated in them) are commonly detained. Children seeking asylum may also be detained. Especially when they are held in facilities alongside adults, children in detention are at risk of psychological, physical and sexual abuse and other harms to their development.
Best Practices in Policy and Decision making
When discussing either the Best Interest of the Child or the Welfare Principle emphasis must be placed on three main applications:
- Government policy making (Government Decisions),
- Program design (Programming Decisions) and
- Decisions made about children on an individual basis (Individual Decisions).
The Best Interest of a Child relates to our DECISION MAKING process with regards to children’s rights, well-being, positive development, protection and children’s wishes.
Policy Decisions International Humanitarian Organizations and the Kenya Children Act (2012) requires projects to analyze how each course of action may affect children. Because the interests of children are not always identical to adults' interests, and can at times even conflict, GE must carefully separate out the various interests at stake. The government does not have to take the course of action that is best for children, but if any conflicts are identified, GE must make the "best interests" of children "a primary consideration." This rule applies in budget allocations, in the making of laws, and in the administration of the government.
Program Decisions: Similar to how the government must create policies for the protection of all children in the state, organizations designing programs or making programming decisions on behalf of all children in a program location must do so considering how the rights, well-being, positive development, protection and children’s wishes will be affected on a broad scale. Therefore, rather than look at an individual child, organizations will assess a given population and design programs that will benefit this entire population. For example, an organization may design an awareness raising campaign on the reintegration of former child soldiers. The program itself is not targeting any one child, but intends to bring awareness to support all former child soldiers. Participants should understand that the design of their activities can have an impact on an individual child or groups of children depending on how the activity is planned and implemented. In addition, how they respond (identify, report, refer, followup) to child protection cases must be carefully thought through on the basis of the Best Interest of the Child with careful evaluation to ensure that decisions are not solely made in the interest of the parent, the agency responding, or sometimes even the child’s own wishes.
Procedure to ensure non-discrimination
The Human Rights committee defines discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing of all rights and freedoms.
According to the CRC, Article 2 states that, ―States shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parents or legal guardian’s race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth and status. In other words, every child within a State’s jurisdiction holds all CRC rights without regard to citizenship, immigration status or any other status. Refugee children, asylum seekers, and rejected asylum seekers are entitled to all rights of the CRC. States parties should take all appropriate measures to ensure that a child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of status, activities, expressed opinions or beliefs of a child’s guardians or family members.
Program design for Child Protection
Are there Groups of boys and girls discriminated against:
(Question: Who is discriminated against?)
Children with disabilities
Children affected by HIV/AIDS
Reasons for Discrimination:
(Question: Why are they being discriminated against?)
Poverty and other economic reasons
Traditional/Cultural beliefs and practices
Lack of education
Lack of awareness
(Question: What is the result of the discrimination?)
Limited opportunities (limited access to education)
Limited scope of participation
Family values boys over girls
The program should ensure that the above are taken into consideration and that no child is discriminated against in the intervention.It is vital that protection of children is prioritised. These should determine programme design, alongside factors such as the number of children at risk, and assistance and protection services that are already operational. It is important to continuously monitor and analyse the nature and scale of risks to children, the capacity of populations of concern and the child protection system to address those risks.
Key Steps in Child Protection
Analyse child protection needs and capacities and plan the response
- Assess child protection needs and risks and prioritise them in terms of severity and scale. Base initial assessments on pre-crisis and secondary data, and that risks for children are prevalent
- even if there is no data to substantiate this.
- Consider what further information is needed. This can be collected by including child protection questions and issues in initial rapid needs assessments (within 1 – 3 weeks), or specifically assessing child protection concerns (within 4-6 weeks, ongoing as required).
- Assess the capacity of the child protection system, of GE, partners, and other key actors. Look for ways to connect with and build on existing capacity.
- Monitor and report on child protection issues and violations. There is a specific obligation to monitor and report on grave violations against children.
- Identify gaps in GE capacity and the need for dedicated child protection staff. Review the percentage of children in the population and the severity of the child protection risks. Consider asking GE to deploy additional child protection personnel and provide expert guidance.
- Establish or strengthen coordination mechanisms for child protection. To start with, focus on technical and strategic guidance, identifying gaps, and ensuring that services are not duplicated.
- Develop a capacity building strategy for volunteers, partners, Government and different categories of GE staff. GE is often able to support capacity building technically. Consider coaching, mentoring, self-learning, and other methods in addition to training, and tie training to performance outcomes.
Establish mechanisms to identify, prioritise, assess and refer children at risk
- Include clear guidelines and screening questionsin the registration procedures that will identify vulnerable children.
- Assign child protection staff to registration points and establish a child protection desk.
- Establish referral pathways and criteria for prioritizing identified children at risk. Prioritization should be based on an evaluation of exposure to risk, and referral pathways should be part of the operation's best interests procedure for children at risk.
- As soon as possible, train registration and other key staff to identify and refer children at risk, and in how to communicate with children.
- Ensure registration environments and processes are child-friendly, including providing communication material and information that are accessible to children of different ages and abilities.
At camp / site / city level
- Set up a functioning best interests procedure (BIP) and ensure that enough GE and partner staff are available for implementation.
- Agree on prioritisation criteria, referral pathways, and BIP Standard Operating Procedures (i.e. SOPs for case management) of children at risk.
- As part of the BIP, establish clear roles, responsibilities and mechanisms to ensure that Best Interest Assessments (BIAs) are systematically conducted for UASC and other children at risk.
- Information recorded in relation to cases of individual children at risk should be stored securely and confidentially using the Child Protection Module in proGres V4 wherever this is in use. The Child Protection Information Management System or other systems may be used by some partners, in which case GE will need to find ways to share information appropriately.
- Ensure that asylum and assistance procedures are child-friendly, for example by consulting children on GE and partner procedures and integrating their feedback, and providing information to children in a format that they can understand.
3. Prevent, and respond to, separation of children from parents and caregivers
- Put in place measures to prevent separation during arrival, relocation and evacuations. (Ensure families are kept together, do not transfer children alone without screening first, etc.)
- Ensure that assistance procedures do not encourage deliberate separation (for example by targeting UASC, or encouraging families to split in order to receive additional assistance).
- Ensure that mechanisms are in place to identify, refer, document, trace and reunify children. Coordinate with ICRC and national Red Cross/Crescent Societies.
- Support or establish tracing activities (community-based tracing mechanisms, listening posts, children's desks, phone calls, progress searches, etc.), as necessary.
- Ensure that Best Interests Procedure is in place for all children who require tracing and reunification. (See the Entry on Best Interests Procedures.)
4. Ensure adequate alternative care services
- Seek to understand traditional care strategies for UASC (including potential protection risks linked to these). Assess the capacity of the community to absorb children that need care, and the complementary support that is potentially required.Complementary support be based on the family's vulnerability rather than the fact that the family is caring for UASC, so as to prevent deliberate separation in the hope of assistance.
- Conduct BIA for all children who are considered for, or who are in, alternative care. If numbers are high, prioritize younger children and unaccompanied children.
- Identify a range of alternative care options for children in different situations. Prioritize younger children for family-based care, and keep siblings together. Options are likely to include foster care, and supported/supervised independent living for older children or child-headed households, for whom family-based care has been explored and proven to be unfeasible. Residential care arrangements in family-like settings may be considered if the community's foster-care capacity is overwhelmed. Institutional care should be a last resort and for the shortest possible time.
- Mobilize community leaders and community-based organizations (such as foster parents' associations) to support alternative care.
5. Provide psychosocial support for children, parents and caregivers
- Provide parents and caregivers with information on child psychosocial distress, and on how they can support their children to recover, as well as access services.
- Establish regular structured recreational activities, led by community volunteers, and coordinate these with education activities. This may include child friendly spaces, ensuring that age and gender-sensitive activities are developed and implemented for teenagers.
- Ensure that psychosocial support activities link to and support safe emergency education of good quality.
- Work with other sectors to ensure that they consider the protection and wellbeing of children. Assist them to make their services child-friendly and accessible.
6. Prevent and respond to sexual violence and exploitation
- Ensure that measures to prevent sexual violence and sexual exploitation include children (for example, by identifying risk factors specific to children).
- Ensure that response and referral mechanisms are adapted to the needs of children and link to Best Interests Procedure (including, but not limited to, alternative care, BIP) where necessary.
- Provide information on access to services and child protection. Make information child-friendly. Access to information helps to prevent sexual exploitation.
- Put in place immediate safety and security measures. These include policing and emergency lighting at displacement sites, and screening procedures at points of entry to and departure from affected areas, to prevent abductions, trafficking and violence, and accommodating child-headed households close to vetted community households.
7. Strengthen community-based child protection mechanisms and national child protection system
- Identify community-based mechanisms, traditions and practices that contribute to the protection of children. Identify, training and mobilise resource people who can identify and refer protection risks and children at risk.
- Promote community-led initiatives to strengthen the protective environment (awareness-raising, referrals, follow-up of children at risk, etc.).
- Map the structure, capacity and procedures of the national child protection system, degree to which children of concern to GE have access to these, and support needs.
- Work with national authorities and UNICEF at the national level and the field to strengthen capacity, quality and responsiveness of the national system, and advocate to ensure children of concern have non-dissimilatory access.
8. Prevent recruitment and support the release and reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed groups (CAAFAG)
- Ensure screening and identification procedures are in place for CAAFAG and that procedures for ex-combatants are child-sensitive.
- Do not detain children unless absolutely necessary. If detention is unavoidable, detain children separately, and avoid separating siblings.
- As a prevention and response strategy in all contexts, ensure that children have access to psychosocial, educational, livelihood and recreational activities that are not stigmatizing.