A European Initiative on Training of Care Professionals

Prologue – Securing Children´s Rights 

One of the topics raised during the national and international debates around the topic of reforming the child care sector (sometimes called De-Institutionalisation) was the need to pay attention to how relationships between care professionals and children in care develop. A study conducted by SOS and partners in four countries[1] reveals the important role of care professionals in building the resilience, skills, and competencies of children and young people in care, as to improve their lives during and after leaving care.

To address this important aspect of the care process, the Council of Europe and SOS Children´s Villages launched Securing Children´s Rights – A Guide for Professionals working in Alternative Care. The Guide aims at helping care professionals in understanding the need of applying a child-rights based approach to their work and was developed through national consultations, which took place in 2013 and involved care professionals and young people with care experience.

Capacity Building of Care Professionals

Our current project “Training professionals working with children in care” builds upon the Securing Children’s Rights guide. It aims at ensuring that the rights of children and young people living in care are met while being in care, including their transition to an independent life. This aim should be achieved by providing 800 care professional with a training on how to apply a child-rights based approach to their work.

The project enjoys a consistent co-financing support from the European Commission’s Fundamental Right and Citizenship programme and it will be implemented through international and national partnerships between SOS Children’s Villages International, the Council of Europe, Eurochild, SOS Children’s Villages Member Associations and their national partners in 8 EU countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, and Romania.

Project Activities

The following activities will be undertaken at national and international level to implement the project:

  1. Developing a training handbook for training care professionals

In 2015 a European Expert Group consisting of experts on child rights and child care and including young people with care experience, will develop a handbook to be used by national trainers in training care professionals.

  1. Organise an international training of trainers who will deliver national trainings

The training will be organised in partnership with the Council of Europe in November 2015 and will provide about 27 national trainers and project coordinators with the necessary contents and skills to train care professionals with a different professional, cultural and national background.

The international and multi-cultural learning environment will be both a space for learning and exchange of good practices between peers.

  1. National preparation and implementation of trainings

In each of the 8 countries, National Steering Group (consisting of national stakeholders like child ombudspersons, public and private child social service providers, youth with care experience led networks, social work associations and universities) will organise between four to six national trainings, reaching out to 100 care professionals. The trainings will be organised in the first half of 2016.

  1. Awareness raising and promotion at the national and European level

Following the national trainings, care professionals and trainers will contribute to developing  national and European recommendations for training of care professionals to apply a child rights based approach to their work. Efforts will be made to make the learnings of the project known at national and international level, in particular targeting stakeholders who have responsibilities on the initial and continuous training of care professionals, on resourcing such training, in monitoring and evaluating the work of care professionals with children and young people in care.

The project will finalise with an international conference planned to take place in November 2016 in Paris. This event will mark the launch of the European recommendations which will highlight all national recommendations, roadmaps for sustainability, good practices, outcomes and key findings of the core project activities.

Young people with care experience are involved in various roles (as members of the National Steering Groups, members of the European Expert Group or as consultative partners at national level) in all the activities mentioned above.

In a nutshell, this unique project aims at a sustainable change in the approach of the training of care professionals, by raising their awareness and skills in applying a child rights based approach in the work with children and young people in care. By the end of 2016, we will be ready to provide the child care community with a European handbook on training care professionals, along with the necessary training methodology. The national and European recommendation based on over 800 individual experiences with the handbook should inspire decision makers in setting new benchmarks for training care professionals, which will ultimately improve the quality of care children can enjoy!

If you are interested to learn more about this project please visit the webpage of the project here: http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/what-we-do/alternative-childcare/quality-in-care/training-of-care-professionals . If you want to receive regular updates about the project or for any further information you might need, please contact the project manager: Ms Raluca Verweijen-Slamnescu at Raluca.verweijen-slamnescu@sos-kd.org.

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[1] SOS Children’s Villages International (2012) When care end – Lessons from peer research, http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/getmedia/80a754d9-8832-4a16-9e7e-11ece55b23e0/PeerResearch-European-Report-WEB.pdf

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