Better Care Network is committed to supporting children’s care reform through its Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Initiative on Children without Appropriate Family Care. Since 2013, BCN has been collaborating with a number of regional and national organisations and bodies to support family strengthening and improved alternative care. BCN is currently working through its Regional Initiative to support building the evidence base, share knowledge and information, and increase national and regional capacity. The Regional Initiative prioritises supporting the development and implementation of care reform practices which emphasise the strengthening of families and the improvement of alternative care services. This phase of the Regional Initiative is also focusing on supporting Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.
BCN has also developed an online regional Community of Practice for Eastern and Southern Africa called "Care to Practice" (C2P). C2P is an online community of practitioners who are working on family strengthening and children’s alternative care issues in the ESA region. C2P seeks to improve the flow of information to, from and between practitioners, build the evidence base, and support improved practices.
Regional Consultation and Mapping Exercise
The Regional Initiative has provided support through convening a regional consultation meeting in Nairobi in 2014. This consultation brought government, non-government and academic stakeholders together in order to share information, build collaboration, and identify priorities within the context of increased knowledge, sharing and capacity around children’s care reform across the region.
The regional consultation was preceded by a mapping in 2014 of family strengthening and alternative care organisations and initiatives, the results of which helped identify priorities for BCN support and collaboration in the region.
Uganda National Consultation
BCN supported a national consultation meeting in 2014 in Uganda which resulted in a number of recommendations around increased knowledge sharing and capacity building in the context of care reform. In 2015 the Ugandan government, in partnership with the national Child Protection Working Group and with support from BCN, embarked upon the development of a national strategy for the alternative care of children.
Rwanda National Consultation
BCN also supported a national consultation meeting in Rwanda in 2014. This resulted in a number of recommendations from stakeholders to government and civil society in order to enhance the care reform process in Rwanda.
Zambia National Consultation
In 2016, BCN supported a national consultation process with the Zambian government and diverse stakeholders (the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, GHR Foundation, USAID, UNICEF, Save the Children and other NGOs) in order to help accelerate the child care reform process. The consultation had an especially strong emphasis on the role of the social services in children’s care reform.
Country Care Profiles
In order to promote further exchange and learning within the region, BCN has worked in partnership with UNICEF and PEPFAR to jointly develop Country Care Profiles for Rwanda, Liberia and Ghana in order to research and document promising policies and practices of national level child care reform. An accompanying summary report was developed to highlight key successes and challenges across the three countries, and key findings were presented by BCN at the BCN regional learning meeting in August 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Country care profiles for Zambia and Uganda are also currently being developed with support from BCN.
BCN is also developing country briefs which provide a detailed analysis of children’s care and living arrangements from the latest available DHS/MICS conducted in each country. This includes Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Zambia.
Training and Country Briefs for the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC)
BCN partnered with the Interagency Initiative on Child Protection Systems Strengthening and Children’s Alternative Care to provide training to the ACERWC. In April 2014 the ACERWC participated in a half day of child protection systems training as well as training on the Alternative Care Guidelines, following the 2013 launch of the handbook: Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’. The aim was to support the ACERWC reviews of State Party Reports and the drafting of general recommendations.
Following the training sessions for members of the ACERWC in 2014, the ACERWC asked the Interagency Initiative on Child Protection Systems Strengthening and Children’s Alternative Care to prepare country briefs on alternative care for the countries due to submit State Party Reports. Since that time, BCN has worked in an inter-agency group along with Family for Every Child, Hope and Homes for Children, International Social Service, Save the Children, and SOS Children's Villages International to facilitate the development of a number of country briefs.
Online Regional Community of Practice for Eastern and Southern Africa
During the 2014 regional consultations, several practitioners highlighted the lack of access to regionally relevant information and learning around family strengthening and alternative care. In response, BCN developed an online regional Community of Practice called Care To Practice (C2P) which seeks to improve the flow of information to, from and between practitioners; build the evidence base; and support improved practices.
C2P provides a virtual space for constructive reflection and support, increased access to relevant and appropriate resources, increased sharing of information. C2P targets practitioners in the region, with a focus on those who are implementing programmes in the field.
To join the C2P or learn more contact Naume Kupe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collaborative Working Papers
BCN has collaborated with the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, to publish a working paper to examine the implications of care reforms on the social service workforce, with case studies from Moldova, Rwanda and Indonesia.
Additionally, BCN has collaborated with UNICEF, PEPFAR and USAID/DCOF on a working paper entitled “Making Decisions for the Better Care of Children: The role of gatekeeping in strengthening family-based care and reforming alternative care systems." The working paper includes a literature review and case studies of different gatekeeping mechanisms from Rwanda, in addition to Brazil, Bulgaria, Indonesia, and Moldova.
Africa Expert Consultation on Violence against Children in All Care Settings
BCN participated in - and, alongside a number of partners, supported - an Africa expert consultation on violence against children in all care settings. Other partners included African Child Policy Forum, Family for Every Child, HelpAge International, Hope and Homes for Children, International Social Service, REPSSI, Save the Children and SOS Children’s Villages.
On 21-22 June 2017, the African Child Policy Forum and Better Care Network - with the support of Catholic Relief Services, Family for Every Child, Hope and Homes for Children and Save the Children - convened 40 leaders representing child rights bodies, regional economic communities, national governments and civil society in Nairobi, Kenya for the Africa Expert Consultation: Violence Against Children in All Care Settings.
The conclusions and recommendations of each regional consultation will culminate in a final global expert consultation – spearheaded by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children and her office - to adopt a global document that identifies progress and challenges in the implementation of the UN Study on Violence Against Children and the Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children, as well as developing an accompanying advocacy strategy.
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International Alternative Care Conference - Building the Momentum, 3-5 October 2016
Care to Practice - C2P - and Better Care Network collected the Africa highlights from the conference International Alternative Care Conference in October 2016 via storify.