Vulnerable children and families are entitled to efficient, comprehensive and respectful assistance on multiple fronts set out in national and global policies, but are often faced with piecemeal, inadequate and intrusive services, or are neglected altogether. Services designed to protect children’s rights often function on their own, disconnected from other services that may also be needed if these rights are to be protected and their needs met holistically. The results are often overlaps and gaps in services, negatively impacting those in need of services. From the child and family view, and from the perspective of those at the grassroots level involved in assisting them, the service structure can often seem an unnavigable maze full of unknown challenges, and many give up.
This guide is aimed at policy makers and programme managers working across Eastern and Southern Africa whose role is to support and protect the rights of vulnerable children and their families. It has been developed in line with the growing recognition that the rights and needs of vulnerable children and families are complex, multifaceted, interrelated and interdependent. Meeting children’s rights cannot be fully accomplished by working in one sector alone, whether it be child protection, social protection, health, HIV, education, justice or any other. Stakeholders working for and with vulnerable children recognize that the rights and needs of children who face multiple risks are best addressed within a coordinated and integrated approach. At the case level, this type of service approach – known as the integrated case management (ICM) model – is increasingly recognized as a best practice.
Investments in case management are growing across many sectors, notably health, HIV care and child protection. However, although all case management systems seek to link different sectors, in practice the linkages have been hard to implement consistently. This guide intentionally focuses on what is needed for integration to work.