After successful meeting in Zagreb in February, the second of several service exchange meetings organized within the framework of the project named Promoting child-friendly multi-disciplinary and interagency services (PROMISE) was held from June 14th to June 17th in Reykjavik, Iceland. Director of Child Protection Center, Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, and Center`s psychologist Ana Marija Španić actively joined the meeting, focus of which was on implementation and training within the context of child-friendly multi-disciplinary and interagency services (MD/IA) supporting child victims and witnesses of violence.

Main discussions of the meeting included implementation of the project, as well as implementing the MD/IA services at the national level. Exchange meeting took place after fruithful study visit to the Barnahus in Reykjavik, first of the European Barnahus. The agenda of the meeting included represenatives from the pilot countries informing about the progress and challenges in their countries, the Pilot Country Baseline was introduced, as well as the methodology of the project and the tracking tool. The scope of the meeting also included reviewing the PROMISE standards, legal obligations and good practices, exploring the enabling factors and advocacy possiblities, finishing with the training day delivered by Barnahus professionals. The training focused on the child-friendly approach, forensic interviewing of children, therapy, medical support and collecting evidence in the context of MD/IA collaboration, establishing Barnahus and cooperation between different agencies.

About the  PROMISE

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.

Exchange meeting focusing on implementation and training

During the Reykjavik meeting representatives from the pilot countries informed about achievements and challenges in implementing the Barnahus model at the national level. On the 3rd of June Lithuania became the first of the pilot countries to launch their Barnahus. Many of the other pilot countries are in the process. In addition, the development of the documentation and guidance for the project continues.

From the 14th to the 16th of June, 42 participants from the PROMISE project discussed the implementation of the project. The meeting took place in Iceland, where the first Barnahus was developed. This Barnahus was, and continues to be, the inspiration for other Barnahus in the Nordic countries as well as for the pilot countries.  The second exchange meeting started with a study visit to the Barnahus, which was followed up by a training in the Barnahus procedures led by the Barnahus staff and other professionals and agencies cooperating to ensure children’s access to justice and quality care. Learning was also enhanced by the presentations on the quality standards and good practices, of the legal obligation and guidance material, the methodology and tracking tool and by discussing advocacy. There is a lot to learn from each other on this issue and press interest is growing. The BBC recently made a reportage about the Barnahus, and the PROMISE meeting in Iceland was a main news item on Icelandic TV.

The key issue that was addressed within the Reykjavik meeting was implementation and training, with the purpose of considering the operational and inter-agency models, sharing training methodologies and team set up, as well as the training in skills required and gathering information from children.

Programme in short:

  • Study visit to the Barnahus in Reykjavik
  • Reviewing the PROMISE standards, and the legal obligations & good practices that support their fulfilment
  • Entering the pilot phase: the base line, the methodology and how to use the Tracking tool
  • Exploring enabling Factors & Advocacy: Learning from the exchange on experiences to date in building MD/IA Models
  • Training day at Barnahus
  • Red thread: child-friendly environment, focus on forensic interviews and children’s access to justice, children’s participation and follow up.

Key documents of the meeting, exchange meeting presentations, as well as the progress in the pilot countries and training presentations are available on the PROMISE project website.

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