The rights of the child. With the generous support of our partners, CONCORDIA currently implements five projects in Bulgaria, Romania, Republic of Moldova and Kosovo that focus specifically on child protection. protection of children and young people from any from of neglect, harm or abuse lies at the heart of all activities within the CONCORDIA family. Therefore, CONCORDIA implements numerous projects specifically addressing the topic of child protection, always referring to internationally established standards like the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, the European Child Guarantee and the UN convention on the rights of the child. With the generous support of our partners, CONCORDIA currently implements five projects in Bulgaria, Romania, Republic of Moldova and Kosovo that focus specifically on child protection.
CONCORDIA’s currently ongoing “ProtectMe” project aims to strengthen child safety policies in child care and improving families’ services in Bulgaria, Romania, Republic of Moldova and Kosovo by working on one hand directly with children and young people and on the other hand with care professionals and social managers. Through a number of activities such as inter-active workshops, outdoor events and excursions, children and young people are informed about their rights and continuously increase their competences to recognise and report any attempts of abuse or violence against them.
These activities also help them to reduce stress and increase their resilience. Moreover, within this project a brochure of a child-friendly version of CONCORDIA’s Child Protection Policy has been produced in Bulgarian, Romania, English, German and Albanian. Resulting from this, a new idea was born and is currently implemented: the production of an animated video on the Child Protection Policy so as to make it understandable even for the smallest children.
Besides the activities with the children, professionals from CONCORDIA and from local authorities were targeted via national and regional workshops, trainings and conferences on child safeguarding standards. They significantly increased their knowledge and awareness about prevention of abuse and neglect, necessary reactions in cases of abuse and the use of child safeguarding tools. As a result, they have improved the quality of their daily work with children in alternative care. Last but not least, 16 CONCORDIA professionals from Bulgaria, Romania, the Republic of Moldova, Kosovo and Austria will participate in May 2022 in a planned study tour, which will provide them with the possibility to have an exchange with child protection professionals from other European countries and learn from best practices in this field. The topic to be covered during this exchange event is to focus on successful instruments for prevention of domestic violence and abuse against children.
Another important project – “EduSafe” – implemented in Bulgaria, Romania and the Republic of Moldova, aims to protect children in educational facilities. This is done by a multi-dimensional approach targeting different stakeholders at all levels: Teachers and educational staff are informed about all aspects of potential abuse, violence and bullying and trained to apply child safeguarding principles and measures in their daily work. Parents of children from day care centres as well as from partner schools and kindergartens benefit of counselling sessions on prevention of abuse and violence so as to improve their good-parenting capacities. Children are sensitised about violence in general and topics like bullying at school, abusive behaviour and neglect in particular. They are also encouraged to speak about their experiences, their thoughts and understanding about violence, signals of abuse and wishes regarding a safe environment at school and in the day care centres. An important finding of this project is the timeliness of child protection topics in institutions and in families. Schools and kindergartens need more support from governmental level to entitle professionals to provide feedback on cases of violent behaviour against or among children. Children lacking adequate support are at a high risk of poor performance and early school drop-outs. This project also included a study visit of 12 CONCORDIA professionals from Bulgaria, Romania, the Republic of Moldova, Kosovo and Austria who travelled to Hungary and visited four organisations, thereof one state-run institution, that are active in the field of child protection, the work with children victims of abuse and children with problematic behaviour as well as with those coming from ethnically marginalised families (Roma). This exchange was an outstanding opportunity for CONCORDIA professionals to get insights on how other organisations and institutions address the topic of child protection and children’s rights and to further increase their knowledge and capacities for their daily work.
Stronger families, stronger children
Strengthening foster families and community-based care as an alternative to institutional care is the focus of a project implemented in the Republic of Moldova. Within “Stronger families, stronger children” young people are taught about their rights to protection and development and strengthened in their capacities to participate in their individual development plans. Foster parents and pedagogues from residential placement services participate at workshops on improvement of parental capacities with regard to trauma informed care and prevention of neglect and abuse. They increase their knowledge on how to support the children in developing their communication skills and to become emotionally mature. As a result, the children improve their resilience to stress and develop independent life skills. The project also includes a cooperation with the Social Assistance Services from eleven counties in Moldova. Through workshops with CONCORDIA experts the practitioners from family-type services improve the tools on monitoring and evaluation of the children in the services.