In 2009, the UN General Assembly welcomed the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (A/RES/64/142). It is time to take stock of progress and challenges in their implementation. Since their inception, the Guidelines have been promoted through a variety of approaches including training, country assessments and the development of resources led by a range of agencies at the national and international levels. In 2013, a handbook entitled ‘Moving Forward: Implementing the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’ was launched in six languages. A resource tool targeted at legislators, policy makers and decision-makers in the field of child protection and alternative care, it provides key information on the various provisions and approaches of the Guidelines, links policy to practice and provides ‘promising practice’ examples.
The Guidelines provide authoritative guidance on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and are used by the Committee on the Rights of the Child to assess implementation of relevant provisions under the convention. However, it is difficult for countries to track their progress in implementing the standards set out in the Guidelines. In order to address this challenge, an inter-agency initiative was funded by the Oak Foundation and co-facilitated by the Better Care Network and Save the Children, conducted in close collaboration with the Children without Appropriate Parental Care Working Groups in New York and Geneva. This has led to the development of this interactive, strengths-based diagnostic and learning tool to help governments, children’s service providers, NGOs, civil society, academics and others determine the extent to which a state or region has effectively implemented the Guidelines, and the priorities for change still ahead.
The Steering Group for the initiative was composed of Better Care Network, Family for Every Child, Hope and Homes for Children, International Social Service (ISS), RELAF, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages International, UNICEF and Eurochild. The Centre for Excellence for Looked after Children in Scotland (CELCIS) was commissioned to develop and write the tool.
To ensure the tool addresses the need of a range of actors working on care reforms at national, regional and global levels, a broad e-consultation was held involving more than 160 individuals from all regions, including representatives of governments, NGOs, treaty bodies and UN agencies, among others. Using this feedback and the input from the Steering Group, a draft was developed, which was revised and refined through field tests in three countries: Rwanda, Romania and Paraguay.
The Steering Group is now looking to make the Tool available in several languages to enhance accessibility and utility for a global community.