Emergency care should cater to the child’s basic shelter, security, food and health needs, on a level that is comparable to the local community in order to avoid encouraging further family separations. Children should be kept fully informed of efforts to locate family, and any interim care plans. All agencies offering care must follow and international standards, and coordinate with the local authority.
The preferred care will usually be with temporary caretakers from the community, rather than in institutions, since this provides continuity and greater protection. Children associated with armed forces may require interim care, if immediate family reunification is not possible and in their best interests. Spontaneous care situations, such as kinship, foster care, and child headed households should be screened, monitored and supported to ensure children are protected and their basic needs and rights are being met. In some cases an alternative placement may be necessary. Where family members cannot be located, a longer term care plan should be formulated, however adoption must only be considered after all tracing and reunification activities have been exhausted over a substantial period of time.
Support programs should include all affected children, and should not target or isolate separated children. They should strengthen the community’s natural coping methods and support structures, and will therefore include community and child participation in decision making processes. All placements must be fully documented to facilitate tracing and reunification activities. Reunification should be the immediate goal for all children, unless this is not in their best interests.
The documents in this section relate to emergency care guidelines and examples from around the world.