States and all organisations with child care programmes should have child care policies which are in line with national legislation and international law, e.g. the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In line with the CRC, emphasis should be placed on the child’s best interests, with support to families prioritised in order to prevent family separation. Good gatekeeping mechanisms are essential in ensuring families receive the services they need and are entitled to, and to guard against inappropriate placement into poor care arrangements.
Home-based care, day care, and other family support services are mechanisms for assisting families in providing for the child’s development and, when used appropriately, can prevent child separation. When a child is unable to remain at home, alternative forms of community based care should be prioritised, such as formal kinship care or foster care. The use of institutions should be highlighted as a last and temporary measure. All support and care provisions should outline the referral and admission process, the use of care plans, regular reviews, rehabilitation, and aftercare procedures.
Child protection legislation which recognises that abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect, and may be carried out by parents, caretakers, children and other adults is required. All agencies working with children should have written child protection policies which respect the rights of the child. Policies should outline behaviours and actions which are unacceptable, provide standards for the appropriate care of children, and clear guidelines on what procedures to follow and by whom, including reporting mechanisms for suspected abuse to an assigned authority for investigation.
Child care and protection policies require resources and monitoring of standards to ensure their appropriate implementation. Adequate provision and training of child care and social work staff is required to deliver family support services and alternatives forms of child care. All staff working with children should be trained and supervised in providing appropriate care for children, identifying abuse, and responding appropriately.
The literature in this section contains country reports and examples of national and organisational child care and protection policies.