After successful regional conference in Linköping and previous exchange meetings in Zagreb and Reykjavik, on 13-14 March 2017 professionals from around Europe came to Haarlem where the third Service Exchange Meeting of the PROMISE project was held. The key theme of the meeting was transfer and adaptation of the project model: the next steps, specifically focusing on promoting MD/IA with linking policy and practice – current practices and challenges in implementing child friendly practices within the child protection systems, implementation in different national contexts and MD/IA services becoming active agents for change in Europe.

Director of Child and Youth Protection Center, Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, and Center`s psychologist Ana Marija Španić participated at the exchange meeting and study visit. The meeting had a truly inspiring host, Janet van Bavel (PROMISE partner KENTER, Netherlands) who put her great efforts to share Netherlands experiences, gathered experts and invested her time and energy, and heart above all, in the organization of this meeting.

Study visit and Netherlands practices

The Exchange meeting and study visit took place over two days, gathering practitioners, national authorities, NGOs and regional bodies from across Europe. It included also a study visit to the Multi Disciplinary Center Child Abuse and Neglect at Hospital Hoofddorp and to the Child and Youth Trauma Center KENTER in Haarlem, Netherlands. In presenting the work on child abuse and neglect in Netherlands, several experts, including Wouter Kars (Netherlands Forensic Institute), Jacob Jan Feenstra, emeritus Prof. and Dr Francien Lamers-Winkelmann generously shared their experions on reporting code, investigation phase, assessment and forensics, including distinctions between advisory and reporting centers, child protection bord and youth protection. In addition, Margreet Visser gave her presentation on high-conflict divorses, after which Sander van Arum, Child Safety Expert and former Head Offender Treatment De Waag Netherlands presented the model on Risk Management and Offender Treatment as part of systemic approach.

Exchange meeting

The programme of the meeting was referred to learning from each others experiences in building MD/IA Models, focusing on what brings transferability and adaptability, as well as consultation on the methodology and good practice guidance.

The day after study visits was reserved for Service Exchange meeting, with welcoming note from Turid Heiberg, PROMISE Project Coordinator. The next focus was the progress in pilot countries, with each member of the pilot sharing their perspective, progress and challenges in implementing MD/IA model in their national context. The meeting was also focusing on methodology of the project, including Tracking Tool and key points of Good Practice Guidance and its relation to methodology, where valuable input was given and shared in working groups. The afternoon session was focusing on Adaptability and transferability of the Child Friendly Model and PROMISE outputs, specifically on advocacy and putting advocacy brief into practice, also including working sessions. At the end of the Exchange Meeting, all of the four the project experts, among them also Gordana Buljan Flander, director of Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, surprised Bragi Guðbrandsson by honoring him for the enormous contribution to the project and impemention of MD/IA services across Europe.

After inspiring Exchange meeting, on 15 March Project Meeting was held, with the focus on the overview and timing of the project, re-caping the project, delivery outputs and monitoring progress. Project partners and experts thoruoughly discussed all important aspects of project outputs and gave vaulable input necessary for finalizing the project.

About the project

The objective of the PROMISE project, which runs from 2015 to 2017, is to promote child-friendly, multi-disciplinary and interagency services supporting child victims and witnesses of violence, providing them with access to justice, avoiding re-traumatization and ensuring high professional standards for recovery. Drawing on UN, EU and Council of Europe law and existing Barnahus models, this project aims to strengthen capacity, knowledge and exchange between government’s justice and child welfare sectors, the medical field, public/private forensic and therapeutic services as well as child rights NGOs and advocates. The project promotes a one-stop approach for child victims and witnesses of crime, limiting the number of interviews and ensuring comprehensive care including social, medical, therapeutic and legal support.

PROMISE is managed by the CBSS Secretariat (Children’s Unit). Partners include the Child Circle, HAPI, Verwey-Jonker Institute, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Trauma Unit and Barnahus in Iceland, Linköping and Stockholm. It also builds on the expertise of prominent specialists in law, sociology, pediatrics, psychology and psychiatry from different European countries. The Pilot Countries engaged on the project are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, and the UK (England and Scotland). These countries have been identified as having the interest and potential to transform their current services for supporting child victims and witnesses of violence into a multi-disciplinary and interagency cooperation. The pilot countries will learn from existing Barnahus and similar models and also exchange experiences amongst themselves in order to support national level capacity-building and multi-disciplinary and interagency implementation strategies.

Key documents and more information about the project are available on the PROMISE project website.

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