Family Strengthening Programmes Manual for the SOS Children's Village Organisation

 

Working Paper

Family Strengthening
Programmes

Manual for the
SOS Children's Village Organisation 

January 2007

This working paper has been approved by the Senior Management Team and is the official policy framework for the global implementation of family strengthening programmes within the SOS Children’s Village Organisation.

 

Overview of

Family Strengthening Programmes

Policy

Introduction

"A global welfare network like SOS Children's Villages can only remain alive and dynamic if a continuous effort is made to respond to changing conditions in the society involved and to accept new challenges in the interest of the welfare of the children. With this ongoing process of adaptation to the various social realities of the world, the work of SOS Children's Villages will continue to lead to targeted developments in the facilities and services offered."

- Hermann Gmeiner, founder of SOS Children's Villages - 

We live in a world where many children have been deprived of their right to a caring family environment.  Millions of children have lost their parents and the care of their biological family, and many more are at risk of falling into this situation.  All too often, these children have nowhere to find the protection, care and support required for their healthy development. 

Our organisation was born from recognition of the plight of these children and from a desire to respond to their situation in a relevant and meaningful way.  From our roots, we pioneered family-based child care for children who have already lost the care of their own family, through development of the SOS family childcare model.  More recently, we have been able to build on the strong foundation of experience gained in child and family development, in finding ways to address the situation of those children who are at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This prevention work has taken shape in the development of our family strengthening programmes, which aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  In this way, our children’s villages and family strengthening programmes work together towards our vision of a world where “every child belongs to a family, and grows with love, respect and security”.

We join hands with individuals, families, communities, local authorities and other partners to build a society where all children can enjoy a caring family environment.  To do so, we follow a developmental approach which goes beyond the provision of essential services, but recognises the potential of children, their families and communities to lead their own self-reliant development.  In our work with SOS families, we empower children to become contributing members of society, accompanying them on their journey towards self-reliance through a child development planning process.  Similarly, in our family strengthening work, we empower families and communities to protect and care for their children, using a step-by-step family development planning process.  In both areas of our work, we are able to bring our wealth of knowledge, skills and experience in the care and support of vulnerable children within a family environment, to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of many children around the world.

"The family, as the natural environment for the growth and well-being of children should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so it can fully assume its responsibility within the community." 

- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble -

Purpose & Principles

Purpose of our family strengthening programmes

We enable children who are at risk of losing the care of their family to grow within a caring family environment. We work directly with families and communities to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children, in cooperation with local authorities and other service providers.

Principles

1.      The best place for children to grow is within their biological family

The family is at the heart of society and is the natural environment for the healthy development and well-being of children.  Children have the right to grow within their biological family, where they can enjoy a caring environment, with love, respect and security. This right should be guaranteed, unless it is against the best interests of the child.

 

2.     Care-givers are responsible for the development of their children

The care-giver is the person who fulfils the parental role in the life of the child, with primary responsibility for creating the caring family environment required for the child's healthy development.  This role may be shared, according to family composition and culturally appropriate practices. 

3.     Communities are a direct source of support for children & their families

Children and families are part of the wider community in which they live. Community members have a responsibility to protect children's rights and can mobilize their own resources to address to the problem of children at risk of losing the care of their families.  A strong and caring community is able to effectively support these children and their families, and contribute to their development.

4.     The goal of development is the realisation of human rights

Girls and boys, as well as their care-givers, are entitled to all the rights (are rights holders), as expressed in international human rights treaties, notably the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Governments and other duty bearers have the obligation to recognise, respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights.

What we mean by “family strengthening programmes”

OUR CORE BUSINESS = FAMILY-BASED CARE + FAMILY STRENGTHENING

Our organisation focuses on the care and support of children who have lost, or who are at risk of losing, the care of their biological family.  Family strengthening programmes aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  We empower families, to strengthen their capacity to protect and care for their children, and strengthen safety nets for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  Where children have lost the care of their biological family, we provide family-based care within our SOS Children’s Villages.

Working Paper                                     Family Strengthening Programmes  Manual for the SOS Children's Village Organisation   January 2007  This working paper has been approved by the Senior Management Team and is the official policy framework for the global implementation of family strengthening programmes within the SOS Children’s Village Organisation.     Table of Contents  Overview of family strengthening programmes policy   Introduction  Purpose & principles  What we mean by “family strengthening programmes”  Standards summary     Standards & guidelines  1.... Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group  2.... Children have access to essential services for their healthy development  3.... Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children  4.... Communities are empowered to respond to the situation of children at risk & their families  5.... Partnerships are built to achieve common goals  6.... Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective  Overview of  Family Strengthening Programmes  Policy  Introduction                                                                              "A global welfare network like SOS Children's Villages can only remain alive and dynamic if a continuous effort is made to respond to changing conditions in the society involved and to accept new challenges in the interest of the welfare of the children. With this ongoing process of adaptation to the various social realities of the world, the work of SOS Children's Villages will continue to lead to targeted developments in the facilities and services offered."  - Hermann Gmeiner, founder of SOS Children's Villages -   We live in a world where many children have been deprived of their right to a caring family environment.  Millions of children have lost their parents and the care of their biological family, and many more are at risk of falling into this situation.  All too often, these children have nowhere to find the protection, care and support required for their healthy development.   Our organisation was born from recognition of the plight of these children and from a desire to respond to their situation in a relevant and meaningful way.  From our roots, we pioneered family-based child care for children who have already lost the care of their own family, through development of the SOS family childcare model.  More recently, we have been able to build on the strong foundation of experience gained in child and family development, in finding ways to address the situation of those children who are at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This prevention work has taken shape in the development of our family strengthening programmes, which aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  In this way, our children’s villages and family strengthening programmes work together towards our vision of a world where “every child belongs to a family, and grows with love, respect and security”.  We join hands with individuals, families, communities, local authorities and other partners to build a society where all children can enjoy a caring family environment.  To do so, we follow a developmental approach which goes beyond the provision of essential services, but recognises the potential of children, their families and communities to lead their own self-reliant development.  In our work with SOS families, we empower children to become contributing members of society, accompanying them on their journey towards self-reliance through a child development planning process.  Similarly, in our family strengthening work, we empower families and communities to protect and care for their children, using a step-by-step family development planning process.  In both areas of our work, we are able to bring our wealth of knowledge, skills and experience in the care and support of vulnerable children within a family environment, to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of many children around the world.  "The family, as the natural environment for the growth and well-being of children should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so it can fully assume its responsibility within the community."   - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble -  Purpose & Principles Purpose of our family strengthening programmes  We enable children who are at risk of losing the care of their family to grow within a caring family environment. We work directly with families and communities to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children, in cooperation with local authorities and other service providers.  Principles  1.      The best place for children to grow is within their biological family  The family is at the heart of society and is the natural environment for the healthy development and well-being of children.  Children have the right to grow within their biological family, where they can enjoy a caring environment, with love, respect and security. This right should be guaranteed, unless it is against the best interests of the child.     2.     Care-givers are responsible for the development of their children  The care-giver is the person who fulfils the parental role in the life of the child, with primary responsibility for creating the caring family environment required for the child's healthy development.  This role may be shared, according to family composition and culturally appropriate practices.   3.     Communities are a direct source of support for children & their families  Children and families are part of the wider community in which they live. Community members have a responsibility to protect children's rights and can mobilize their own resources to address to the problem of children at risk of losing the care of their families.  A strong and caring community is able to effectively support these children and their families, and contribute to their development.  4.     The goal of development is the realisation of human rights  Girls and boys, as well as their care-givers, are entitled to all the rights (are rights holders), as expressed in international human rights treaties, notably the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Governments and other duty bearers have the obligation to recognise, respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights.  What we mean by “family strengthening programmes” OUR CORE BUSINESS = FAMILY-BASED CARE + FAMILY STRENGTHENING  Our organisation focuses on the care and support of children who have lost, or who are at risk of losing, the care of their biological family.  Family strengthening programmes aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  We empower families, to strengthen their capacity to protect and care for their children, and strengthen safety nets for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  Where children have lost the care of their biological family, we provide family-based care within our SOS Children’s Villages.   RISK FACTORS ð HIGH RISK GROUPS ð TARGET GROUP  The biological family includes the children's birth parents, biological siblings and other relatives.   Children are considered to have lost the care of their family when they have been physically separated from their family.  This includes situations where:  ·          Children's care-givers pass away  ·          Children are abandoned by their family  ·          Children run away from their family  ·          Children are sent away by their family for economic reasons  ·          Children are separated from their family due to political or environmental circumstances  ·          Care-givers leave the family home for economic opportunities  ·          State authorities remove the child from their family (which can be necessary when in the best interests of the child)  As a result, children are often placed in institutional care or exposed to a life on the street, sexual exploitation and child labour.  This is what our organisation has set out to prevent.   Children are viewed as being at risk of losing the care of their family when their basic material, emotional, health and educational needs are being neglected or they are abused, because their care-givers lack the capacity or commitment to adequately care for their children.  Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from their families vary from one community setting to another, and are often culture-bound. These risk factors may include:          The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely that the children are to lose their care.  Typical high risk groups include families where:     Families where…  including…  ·       Children are living with a single parent  [ Parent is unmarried, widowed, divorced, separated or abandoned  ·       Children are living with a 'de facto' single parent  [ One parent is physically unable to provide childcare, e.g. due to illness, disability, or in prison  ·       Children have lost their parents  [ Children have lost their mother, father, or both parents  ·       Children are living in an orphan household  [ Household sheltering orphans, where care-giver is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or other relative  ·       Children whose parents have a life threatening illness  [ Parent is living with HIV/AIDS or another life threatening illness  ·       Children whose parent is living with a new partner or re-marries  [ Children are not accepted by the new partner  ·       There are many children (definition of "many" depends on context)  [ Families are struggling to care for that number of children  ·       The parents and children are discriminated against due to their ethnicity  [ Members of an ethnic minority group who are discriminated against within society     However, what is considered to be a high risk group in one community setting may not be so in another community setting.  The definition of high risk groups within a community depends on the extent to which children and families of that community are affected by the various risk factors.  It is therefore necessary to assess what the main risk factors are that put children most at risk of losing the care of their family, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages.  Based on these, it is possible to specify the target group within a community.  For example, in communities which have been hit hard by HIV/AIDS, the single biggest risk factor is likely to be the impact of the epidemic itself, and the target group shall include children whose parents have a life threatening illness, children who have lost their parents and children living in orphan households.  In other community settings, the range and balance of main risk factors shall be different and the composition of the target group will vary accordingly.     Programme services are directed towards families with children under-18 years of age, who fall within the target group.  Services are made available to the family as a whole, including all of the children and care-givers within the family.  While children at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group, we also work with their care-givers, as they are empowered to develop their capacity to protect and care for their children.      OUR PROGRAMME SERVICES  Each programme is made up of a package of services to support families and communities to assume their responsibility to protect and care for their children; as well as to encourage and support the government and other duty bearers to meet their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children.  At the same time, we empower children and their families to claim their rights from the government and other duty bearers.                       This package of services is designed to:     1.        Ensure that children have access to essential services required fulfilling their survival and development, protection and participation rights. This includes educational, nutrition, health and psycho-social support; improvements of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity. These services reach children directly (see standard 2).     2.        Support families to build their capacity to protect and care for their children.  This includes supporting care-givers to develop their parenting knowledge and skills; to secure a stable source of resources (e.g. income and food production) to provide for their children’s development needs now and in the future; and to manage their resources efficiently.  These services reach children through their families (see standard 3).     3.        Strengthen support systems for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  In particular, support is given to community members (from the target group, relevant service-providers or other concerned members of the community) to self-organise so that they are able to develop and sustain their own responses to the needs of vulnerable children and their families.  These services reach children through their communities (see standard 4).     Within the community, the family strengthening programme works to ensure that all three elements of the package of services (as outlined above) are effectively addressed.  However, the particular services that are offered shall vary from programme to programme, according to differing situations from community to community.     While our organisation shall provide certain services, it is recognised that as the primary duty bearer government has the role of providing access to basic services, and to develop policies and practices that strengthen the care and protection of children and their families.  As such, we only provide services where there are gaps in service provision or where the rights of children within our target group are being violated, and where we are best placed to offer those particular services.  At the same time, we work towards the strengthening of government responses through advocacy on issues affecting our target group.  In particular, we work together with children, families, communities and other relevant stakeholders within the community to hold government authorities accountable to the commitments that they have made under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  In this way, the situation of all children at risk of losing the care of their family may eventually improve.     Family strengthening work is carried out through programmes.  This means that we do not necessarily need to build new facilities in order to carry out our work.  The use of existing infrastructure is promoted, whether through SOS facilities (e.g. social centres, medical centres, and educational facilities) or other available facilities within the community.  Also, we build on our wealth of experience, knowledge and skills as a social development organisation, in particular on our childcare expertise, to develop family strengthening programmes and innovate new approaches.      Family strengthening programmes are carried out in partnership with local implementation partners to ensure that they are effectively ‘rooted’ in the community and are jointly “owned” by these partner organisations and SOS.      Standards summary                                                                                                                                                             1.    Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group  Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.     2.    Children have access to essential services for their healthy development  We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.     3.    Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children  Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.     4.    Communities are empowered to respond effectively to the situation of vulnerable children & their families  We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.     5.    Partnerships are built to achieve common goals  We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.     6.    Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective  Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.                                                   Standards  &  Guidelines       1. Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group                                                                                                                                                            Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.    As an organisation, we continuously work towards our vision that “every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security”.  While there are certainly many children who could benefit from the care and support offered through our programmes, we need to use our resources wisely and focus our efforts, so that we are able to achieve the greatest impact.     Where children have already lost the care of their family, reunification with their biological family should be the primary concern.  If this is not possible or not in the best interest of the child, then children can be referred to family-based childcare programmes, including SOS Children's Villages.        Guidelines 1.       Our target group is specified according to the main factors that place children at risk of losing the care of their family: Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from the family vary according to different community settings.  They often include economic, political, socio-cultural, health and psycho-social factors.  The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely the children are to lose their care.  Based on an assessment of main risk factors in a particular community setting, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages, we identify high risk groups and so specify our target group.   2.       Clear criteria are set to identify those children within our target group who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances: Specific issues that increase vulnerability of children and their families shall vary from community to community. For example, according to social status; gender; age; ethnicity; health status; location or type of home; etc. Therefore, vulnerability criteria are developed in consultation with community members, including children from our target group as well as their care-givers.  The criteria are set during the process of programme design, and are used as the basis for prioritising and selecting children from within the target group who shall participate in the programme.  3.       Children who do not fall within the target group are referred to other programmes or service-providers: Where support is requested for children who are not within our target group, these cases are referred to relevant professionals, organisations, institutions or other programmes for suitable support, according to the best interests of the child.    2.  Children have access to essential services for their healthy development                                                                                                                                                            We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.     It is recognised that children hold within them the potential for their own development.  Nevertheless, children have the right to a caring, protective and stimulating environment in which they can realise this potential.      Essential services that are required to support child development, include educational, nutritional, health and psycho-social support; improvement of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity.         Guidelines 1.      Services are provided based on the individual needs of each child within the family: Each child’s individual situation is assessed as part of the family development planning process (see standard 3 for further explanation).  Special attention is given to ensure non-discrimination in the provision of services based on such factors as gender.   2.      Children are empowered to be able to claim their rights: Children are supported to develop the capacity to access information, assert their rights and participate in relevant decision-making processes (including programme development). This involves participatory skills development and rights trainings for children.  A safe environment is created, where children can fully express their views.      3.  Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children                                                                                                                                                            Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.     Families themselves are responsible for their own development and for the care of their children.  They are considered to be self-reliant in the care of children when they have the knowledge, skills and resources to protect and fulfil their children's survival and development rights now and in the future.     Programme activities are designed to accompany families as they develop towards self-reliance, and offer relevant support as and when required.  This also includes empowering them to claim their rights from governments, as the primary duty bearer.        Guidelines 1.       Families are supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children for up to 5 years: A family can participate in the programme as long as they are working towards self-reliance.  How long this takes largely depends on what coping mechanisms the family already has in place, as well as what additional skills and resources they can build on during their capacity-building process.  Where children are living on their own, such as in sibling-headed households, support is provided until the children have completed their basic education, and have the required skills and resources to take full responsibility for their family.  2.       A structured family development planning process is followed towards self-reliance: The programme assesses carefully together with the family their individual situation, including the specific development needs of each child.  Gaps in the family's ability to care for their children are identified and clear goals set, with a view to filling these gaps.  Actions that the family can take towards reaching these goals are identified.  It is then decided what contribution the programme is able to make, with what conditions and for how long.  These goals are set and contributions agreed, on the understanding that the family shall withdraw from the programme once the goals have been reached.  Documentation of this process, in the form of a family development plan, provides a basis to monitor the progress and successes of each family.  Age-appropriate participation of the children in this process is encouraged.     3.       Care-givers are supported to improve their knowledge and skills in parenting and child development: We support care-givers to increase their knowledge and improve their practical skills, so that they are able to improve the quality of child care, addressing the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development of the children.  This is an area where we can draw from our organisation’s long experience in the training and development of childcare professionals.  4.       Caring and stable relationships are promoted within the family: For the healthy development of children, it is essential that they grow in a family that can maintain loving and caring relationships and where family members can adapt and cope positively with changing life situations and difficulties.  We can support families using various methods and approaches, such as family life workshops, family and relationship counselling.  5.       Gender inequalities that place children at risk of losing the care of their family are addressed: Empowerment of women is essential to ensure adequate care and protection of children. By becoming empowered, female care-givers take control over their own lives and have a voice that allows them to overcome inequality in the family, at work and in the community.  At the same time, male family members are involved in finding solutions to shared problems, to make the solutions relevant and workable.  Specific activities include providing information and raising awareness of women's rights; legal information on gender-based violence and inheritance rights; female economic empowerment; as well as sexual and reproductive health.  6.       Families are supported towards material and financial self-sufficiency: Families need to secure a stable source of resources that they can live from and provide for the well-being of their children, now and in the future.  To do this, they can be supported to enhance their vocational skills, find suitable employment, start income-generating activities and/or produce their own food.  We can draw on the expertise of other service-providers which specialise in micro-financing and micro-enterprise development.  Also, families are equipped with the skills to effectively manage their resources, to reduce any debts, and obtain relevant legal advice.  7.       Families that are headed by a care-giver with a life threatening illness are given specific support: We aim to pro-long the life as well as to improve the quality of life of care-givers with a life threatening illness. A holistic approach is taken to the care and support of such care-givers, which can include counselling, support groups, positive living and wellness management programmes, as well as making referrals for appropriate medical treatment.  In this way, the quality of care that the care-giver is able to give to the children is being improved and the risk that the children are losing the care of their family is being reduced.    8.       Families are empowered to claim their rights and assume their responsibilities towards their children: Families are supported to develop their knowledge and understanding of the rights of the child.  In this way, they are enabled to claim their rights from the government (such as in the areas of social safety nets, food security, and job creation or income generation opportunities) and to create a family environment where those rights are respected and protected.  In particular, care-givers are supported to develop the skills to encourage and guide their children to participate in decision-making processes that affect their own lives, in their family, school, community and other levels of society.      4.  Communities are empowered to respond to the situation of children at risk & their families                                                                                                                                                               We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.     By firmly rooting family strengthening programmes within the community, a solid foundation is laid for lasting action to address the situation of our target group.  We build on existing formal and informal coping mechanisms within the community that have been developed to address the situation of vulnerable children and their families.     Community is defined as a group of people living in the same geographical area, with a shared sense of belonging and identity, and who share common interests.      Guidelines 1.       Communities are supported to organise around the problems of children at risk of losing the care of their family: Community members are actively encouraged not only to recognise the situation of vulnerable children within their community, but also to take action to address their rights, needs and priorities. During the design of the programme, we facilitate processes that lead people, groups, organisations and institutions within the community to respond to these problems.  This includes children from our target group and their care-givers, who are encouraged to participate in finding solutions and to use the opportunity to take control over their own lives. At this time, the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders within the community are made clear.  Where community responses have already been initiated, we support their further development.  2.       A step-by-step approach is taken to build self-reliance of community responses: We work with a clear goal of building knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources in the community, so that ultimately responses to the situation of vulnerable children can be initiated, planned, implemented, managed, monitored and evaluated from within the community itself.  Building self-reliance within the community is a process. In the beginning, SOS plays a more active role, but this decreases over time as more and more responsibility is taken on within the community; until full responsibility for management and further development of the programme is assumed by the community.  3.       Community child care and support services and networks are supported: We support the development of community-based organisations, structures and self-help groups, so that they can improve the quality of services offered to vulnerable children and their families.  Also, we support the development of community networks, bringing together the various people, organisations and institutions within the community involved in the care and support of vulnerable children.  In doing so, we work hand-in-hand with other service-providers to take effective and coordinated action.  Where such community-based organisations and networks do not exist we support establishment of new ones.  4.       Material support is channelled to children and families through implementation partners: Programme services are implemented in partnership with community-based structures, organisations or self-help groups.  Where these implementation partners lack the capacity to effectively manage material and financial resources, with efficiency and accountability, we take a step-by-step approach to help them to build it.  Over time, we support these partners to move towards self-sufficiency, so that they can provide the required resources themselves.  In doing this, we help the community to help themselves and avoid creating dependency of programme participants on our organisation.   5.       Awareness of child rights is built within the community: Knowledge and understanding of children’s rights is promoted within the community, highlighting the obligations and responsibilities of community members to respect and protect these rights within their families and community.  Attention is given to the role community members can play in responding to child rights violations in their community and in collectively advocating for change where the well-being and rights of children are being undermined.  In particular, they are empowered to hold government accountable for ensuring access to basic services, such as education, health and other social security provisions.             5.  Partnerships are built to achieve common goals                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.     Our programmes are able to have a greater impact on the lives of the children within our target group when we combine our efforts with like-minded partners and those who provide complementary services and resources.  Services are provided through the most appropriate channel. We only provide services where we have got the required competency and resources, and if no other provider with acceptable service quality is available.     Guidelines 1.       Programme services are implemented in partnership with local organisations or groups: We seek and enter formal partnership agreements with implementation partners, anchoring the programme within the community.  Such partners can be community-based organisations or structures, self-help groups, local NGOs or local authorities.  Over time, it is expected that the implementation partner shall build the capacity to take full responsibility for ensuring service delivery and ongoing development of the programme.  2.       Complementary services are provided by other organisations: Services should be provided by individuals, organisations or institutions that are best placed to do so. We may form informal or formal partnerships with these service-providers, to ensure that children and families who are being supported by the programme have access to a comprehensive range of services.   3.       Government responses are strengthened through knowledge sharing and other forms of cooperation: In this way, we encourage and support government to take on its responsibility as primary duty bearer to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of children and their families.  4.       Forums and networks that contribute to our objectives are actively supported: We support the development of relevant forums, networks and alliances, including the establishment of new ones where they do not already exist.  The benefits of participation can include sharing of information and resources, as well as more effective coordination of complementary activities and avoiding duplication of services.  It can also provide opportunities for advocacy on issues where the rights of our target group are being violated, with a view bringing about lasting positive change in their situation.  5.       Funding partners: We seek partnerships with other organisations, agencies, institutions, private individuals and businesses, which are able to support our programmes with financial and material resources.    6.  Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective                                                                                                                                                               Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.     Ultimately, the success of a programme is seen in the difference made in the lives of the children who make up our target group.  This goal guides every stage in the development of our programmes, as outlined in the following programme cycle:           Participation of key stakeholders is a core element in all stages of programme development.  In particular, we need to make sure that the voice of the children is heard, especially those within our target group; by giving them the opportunity to participate in ways that they are able to fully express themselves.  Special attention is also given to ensure that gender and other issues of discrimination which place children in a vulnerable position are addressed.      Guidelines    1.       Potential programme locations are identified through a country analysis: Strategic decisions about future programme locations are made based on a country-wide analysis of the situation of children within our target group. Programmes are only developed in communities that meet set criteria, including evidence of high numbers of children who are at risk of losing the care of their family, lack of capacity within the community to respond to their situation, but likely community support for such responses.  2.       The choice of a community is confirmed by a situation analysis: Building on the country analysis, further information is collected and analysed in the identified location. This includes key factors why children are at risk of losing the care of their family, the scale of this problem and which rights are being violated.  Gaps in existing responses are identified and the question of what our organisation can contribute is considered, reflecting on our expertise and availability of other resources.   3.       Key stakeholders are identified through a stakeholder analysis: Individuals, organisations and institutions who are interested or affected by the planned programme are identified, and their interests and possible involvement defined.  This will also lead us to organisations that have an interest and the capacity to be partners in the planned programme.  At this stage, the commitment of government authorities and other relevant stakeholders is secured.   4.       The programme is designed together with the target group and other key partners: Information is gathered through a household survey, including where children at risk are; the number and size of their households; the age and gender of care-givers; relationship with care-givers; sources of support for these children; and so on.  A participatory process is then used to identify the most vulnerable within our target group; what is already being done to address their rights, needs and priorities; what more needs to be done; who can do it; and with what resources.  Based on this research, a clear plan of action, as well as a monitoring and evaluation plan, is drawn-up.  Participation of children from the target group and their care-givers is essential.  During this process, programme partnerships are formalised, the support of government authorities is confirmed and strategies to ensure sustainability of the programme are developed.  5.       Progress towards objectives is continuously monitored during implementation: The process of service provision and changes in the situation of the target group are monitored. When activities start, baseline information is collected from programme participants to assess the situation at the beginning of interventions, so that later judgements about impact can be made. This information is linked to the monitoring and evaluation plan and considers previously collected data. A consistent information gathering system is put in place to ensure that information is collected at programme level to inform programme development, and can be consolidated and filtered to meet information requirements of the wider organisation.  6.       An annual planning process is implemented: Programme planning is carried out once a year together with the implementation partners, based on the organisation’s policy frames for planning.  Participation of members of the target group and other key stakeholders within the community is essential.  A key input to this process is a programme self-evaluation.  7.       A programme impact evaluation is carried out every 3-5 years: This evaluation supplies valuable information on the achievement of the programme’s goal and objectives, evaluating the difference that the programme has actually made in the lives of the target group.  Relevant indicators for assessment of impact are defined as part of the monitoring and evaluation plan, during programme design. By comparing baseline information, gathered during programme design and at the onset of interventions with data collected later, impact can be measured. Such evaluations are carried out by external consultants and participatory approaches are used.  8.       Sustainability of the programme is built: Our goal is that support services provided to children and families through the programme continue, even when our direct involvement ends. Based on strategies developed during programme design, we work together with our implementation partners and provide them with capacity-building support, with a view to their taking over full responsibility for running the programme in the long-term. In cases where implementation partners are unable to take responsibility for particular services, we may consider assuming such responsibility and secure local funding as a service provider, particularly through government funding sources. As our direct involvement in the programme within a particular community is reduced, any resources that are made available may be committed to a programme in another community.  9.       Resources are used efficiently and responsibly: More children are reached primarily by investing in and working through people (our partners in community and/or SOS co-workers) rather than through additional buildings and equipment.  A full-time programme coordinator is put in place in each location, to lead the establishment and ongoing development of the programme.  The number of additional co-workers required for the efficient operation of a programme is defined during programme design.

RISK FACTORS ð HIGH RISK GROUPS ð TARGET GROUP

The biological family includes the children's birth parents, biological siblings and other relatives. 

Children are considered to have lost the care of their family when they have been physically separated from their family.  This includes situations where:

·          Children's care-givers pass away

·          Children are abandoned by their family

·          Children run away from their family

·          Children are sent away by their family for economic reasons

·          Children are separated from their family due to political or environmental circumstances

·          Care-givers leave the family home for economic opportunities

·          State authorities remove the child from their family (which can be necessary when in the best interests of the child)

As a result, children are often placed in institutional care or exposed to a life on the street, sexual exploitation and child labour.  This is what our organisation has set out to prevent. 

Children are viewed as being at risk of losing the care of their family when their basic material, emotional, health and educational needs are being neglected or they are abused, because their care-givers lack the capacity or commitment to adequately care for their children.

Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from their families vary from one community setting to another, and are often culture-bound. These risk factors may include:

Working Paper                                     Family Strengthening Programmes  Manual for the SOS Children's Village Organisation   January 2007  This working paper has been approved by the Senior Management Team and is the official policy framework for the global implementation of family strengthening programmes within the SOS Children’s Village Organisation.     Table of Contents  Overview of family strengthening programmes policy   Introduction  Purpose & principles  What we mean by “family strengthening programmes”  Standards summary     Standards & guidelines  1.... Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group  2.... Children have access to essential services for their healthy development  3.... Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children  4.... Communities are empowered to respond to the situation of children at risk & their families  5.... Partnerships are built to achieve common goals  6.... Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective  Overview of  Family Strengthening Programmes  Policy  Introduction                                                                              "A global welfare network like SOS Children's Villages can only remain alive and dynamic if a continuous effort is made to respond to changing conditions in the society involved and to accept new challenges in the interest of the welfare of the children. With this ongoing process of adaptation to the various social realities of the world, the work of SOS Children's Villages will continue to lead to targeted developments in the facilities and services offered."  - Hermann Gmeiner, founder of SOS Children's Villages -   We live in a world where many children have been deprived of their right to a caring family environment.  Millions of children have lost their parents and the care of their biological family, and many more are at risk of falling into this situation.  All too often, these children have nowhere to find the protection, care and support required for their healthy development.   Our organisation was born from recognition of the plight of these children and from a desire to respond to their situation in a relevant and meaningful way.  From our roots, we pioneered family-based child care for children who have already lost the care of their own family, through development of the SOS family childcare model.  More recently, we have been able to build on the strong foundation of experience gained in child and family development, in finding ways to address the situation of those children who are at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This prevention work has taken shape in the development of our family strengthening programmes, which aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  In this way, our children’s villages and family strengthening programmes work together towards our vision of a world where “every child belongs to a family, and grows with love, respect and security”.  We join hands with individuals, families, communities, local authorities and other partners to build a society where all children can enjoy a caring family environment.  To do so, we follow a developmental approach which goes beyond the provision of essential services, but recognises the potential of children, their families and communities to lead their own self-reliant development.  In our work with SOS families, we empower children to become contributing members of society, accompanying them on their journey towards self-reliance through a child development planning process.  Similarly, in our family strengthening work, we empower families and communities to protect and care for their children, using a step-by-step family development planning process.  In both areas of our work, we are able to bring our wealth of knowledge, skills and experience in the care and support of vulnerable children within a family environment, to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of many children around the world.  "The family, as the natural environment for the growth and well-being of children should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so it can fully assume its responsibility within the community."   - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble -  Purpose & Principles Purpose of our family strengthening programmes  We enable children who are at risk of losing the care of their family to grow within a caring family environment. We work directly with families and communities to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children, in cooperation with local authorities and other service providers.  Principles  1.      The best place for children to grow is within their biological family  The family is at the heart of society and is the natural environment for the healthy development and well-being of children.  Children have the right to grow within their biological family, where they can enjoy a caring environment, with love, respect and security. This right should be guaranteed, unless it is against the best interests of the child.     2.     Care-givers are responsible for the development of their children  The care-giver is the person who fulfils the parental role in the life of the child, with primary responsibility for creating the caring family environment required for the child's healthy development.  This role may be shared, according to family composition and culturally appropriate practices.   3.     Communities are a direct source of support for children & their families  Children and families are part of the wider community in which they live. Community members have a responsibility to protect children's rights and can mobilize their own resources to address to the problem of children at risk of losing the care of their families.  A strong and caring community is able to effectively support these children and their families, and contribute to their development.  4.     The goal of development is the realisation of human rights  Girls and boys, as well as their care-givers, are entitled to all the rights (are rights holders), as expressed in international human rights treaties, notably the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Governments and other duty bearers have the obligation to recognise, respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights.  What we mean by “family strengthening programmes” OUR CORE BUSINESS = FAMILY-BASED CARE + FAMILY STRENGTHENING  Our organisation focuses on the care and support of children who have lost, or who are at risk of losing, the care of their biological family.  Family strengthening programmes aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  We empower families, to strengthen their capacity to protect and care for their children, and strengthen safety nets for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  Where children have lost the care of their biological family, we provide family-based care within our SOS Children’s Villages.  Working Paper                                     Family Strengthening Programmes  Manual for the SOS Children's Village Organisation   January 2007  This working paper has been approved by the Senior Management Team and is the official policy framework for the global implementation of family strengthening programmes within the SOS Children’s Village Organisation.     Table of Contents  Overview of family strengthening programmes policy   Introduction  Purpose & principles  What we mean by “family strengthening programmes”  Standards summary     Standards & guidelines  1.... Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group  2.... Children have access to essential services for their healthy development  3.... Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children  4.... Communities are empowered to respond to the situation of children at risk & their families  5.... Partnerships are built to achieve common goals  6.... Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective  Overview of  Family Strengthening Programmes  Policy  Introduction                                                                              "A global welfare network like SOS Children's Villages can only remain alive and dynamic if a continuous effort is made to respond to changing conditions in the society involved and to accept new challenges in the interest of the welfare of the children. With this ongoing process of adaptation to the various social realities of the world, the work of SOS Children's Villages will continue to lead to targeted developments in the facilities and services offered."  - Hermann Gmeiner, founder of SOS Children's Villages -   We live in a world where many children have been deprived of their right to a caring family environment.  Millions of children have lost their parents and the care of their biological family, and many more are at risk of falling into this situation.  All too often, these children have nowhere to find the protection, care and support required for their healthy development.   Our organisation was born from recognition of the plight of these children and from a desire to respond to their situation in a relevant and meaningful way.  From our roots, we pioneered family-based child care for children who have already lost the care of their own family, through development of the SOS family childcare model.  More recently, we have been able to build on the strong foundation of experience gained in child and family development, in finding ways to address the situation of those children who are at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This prevention work has taken shape in the development of our family strengthening programmes, which aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  In this way, our children’s villages and family strengthening programmes work together towards our vision of a world where “every child belongs to a family, and grows with love, respect and security”.  We join hands with individuals, families, communities, local authorities and other partners to build a society where all children can enjoy a caring family environment.  To do so, we follow a developmental approach which goes beyond the provision of essential services, but recognises the potential of children, their families and communities to lead their own self-reliant development.  In our work with SOS families, we empower children to become contributing members of society, accompanying them on their journey towards self-reliance through a child development planning process.  Similarly, in our family strengthening work, we empower families and communities to protect and care for their children, using a step-by-step family development planning process.  In both areas of our work, we are able to bring our wealth of knowledge, skills and experience in the care and support of vulnerable children within a family environment, to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of many children around the world.  "The family, as the natural environment for the growth and well-being of children should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so it can fully assume its responsibility within the community."   - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble -  Purpose & Principles Purpose of our family strengthening programmes  We enable children who are at risk of losing the care of their family to grow within a caring family environment. We work directly with families and communities to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children, in cooperation with local authorities and other service providers.  Principles  1.      The best place for children to grow is within their biological family  The family is at the heart of society and is the natural environment for the healthy development and well-being of children.  Children have the right to grow within their biological family, where they can enjoy a caring environment, with love, respect and security. This right should be guaranteed, unless it is against the best interests of the child.     2.     Care-givers are responsible for the development of their children  The care-giver is the person who fulfils the parental role in the life of the child, with primary responsibility for creating the caring family environment required for the child's healthy development.  This role may be shared, according to family composition and culturally appropriate practices.   3.     Communities are a direct source of support for children & their families  Children and families are part of the wider community in which they live. Community members have a responsibility to protect children's rights and can mobilize their own resources to address to the problem of children at risk of losing the care of their families.  A strong and caring community is able to effectively support these children and their families, and contribute to their development.  4.     The goal of development is the realisation of human rights  Girls and boys, as well as their care-givers, are entitled to all the rights (are rights holders), as expressed in international human rights treaties, notably the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Governments and other duty bearers have the obligation to recognise, respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights.  What we mean by “family strengthening programmes” OUR CORE BUSINESS = FAMILY-BASED CARE + FAMILY STRENGTHENING  Our organisation focuses on the care and support of children who have lost, or who are at risk of losing, the care of their biological family.  Family strengthening programmes aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family.  We empower families, to strengthen their capacity to protect and care for their children, and strengthen safety nets for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  Where children have lost the care of their biological family, we provide family-based care within our SOS Children’s Villages.   RISK FACTORS ð HIGH RISK GROUPS ð TARGET GROUP  The biological family includes the children's birth parents, biological siblings and other relatives.   Children are considered to have lost the care of their family when they have been physically separated from their family.  This includes situations where:  ·          Children's care-givers pass away  ·          Children are abandoned by their family  ·          Children run away from their family  ·          Children are sent away by their family for economic reasons  ·          Children are separated from their family due to political or environmental circumstances  ·          Care-givers leave the family home for economic opportunities  ·          State authorities remove the child from their family (which can be necessary when in the best interests of the child)  As a result, children are often placed in institutional care or exposed to a life on the street, sexual exploitation and child labour.  This is what our organisation has set out to prevent.   Children are viewed as being at risk of losing the care of their family when their basic material, emotional, health and educational needs are being neglected or they are abused, because their care-givers lack the capacity or commitment to adequately care for their children.  Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from their families vary from one community setting to another, and are often culture-bound. These risk factors may include:          The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely that the children are to lose their care.  Typical high risk groups include families where:     Families where…  including…  ·       Children are living with a single parent  [ Parent is unmarried, widowed, divorced, separated or abandoned  ·       Children are living with a 'de facto' single parent  [ One parent is physically unable to provide childcare, e.g. due to illness, disability, or in prison  ·       Children have lost their parents  [ Children have lost their mother, father, or both parents  ·       Children are living in an orphan household  [ Household sheltering orphans, where care-giver is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or other relative  ·       Children whose parents have a life threatening illness  [ Parent is living with HIV/AIDS or another life threatening illness  ·       Children whose parent is living with a new partner or re-marries  [ Children are not accepted by the new partner  ·       There are many children (definition of "many" depends on context)  [ Families are struggling to care for that number of children  ·       The parents and children are discriminated against due to their ethnicity  [ Members of an ethnic minority group who are discriminated against within society     However, what is considered to be a high risk group in one community setting may not be so in another community setting.  The definition of high risk groups within a community depends on the extent to which children and families of that community are affected by the various risk factors.  It is therefore necessary to assess what the main risk factors are that put children most at risk of losing the care of their family, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages.  Based on these, it is possible to specify the target group within a community.  For example, in communities which have been hit hard by HIV/AIDS, the single biggest risk factor is likely to be the impact of the epidemic itself, and the target group shall include children whose parents have a life threatening illness, children who have lost their parents and children living in orphan households.  In other community settings, the range and balance of main risk factors shall be different and the composition of the target group will vary accordingly.     Programme services are directed towards families with children under-18 years of age, who fall within the target group.  Services are made available to the family as a whole, including all of the children and care-givers within the family.  While children at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group, we also work with their care-givers, as they are empowered to develop their capacity to protect and care for their children.      OUR PROGRAMME SERVICES  Each programme is made up of a package of services to support families and communities to assume their responsibility to protect and care for their children; as well as to encourage and support the government and other duty bearers to meet their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children.  At the same time, we empower children and their families to claim their rights from the government and other duty bearers.                       This package of services is designed to:     1.        Ensure that children have access to essential services required fulfilling their survival and development, protection and participation rights. This includes educational, nutrition, health and psycho-social support; improvements of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity. These services reach children directly (see standard 2).     2.        Support families to build their capacity to protect and care for their children.  This includes supporting care-givers to develop their parenting knowledge and skills; to secure a stable source of resources (e.g. income and food production) to provide for their children’s development needs now and in the future; and to manage their resources efficiently.  These services reach children through their families (see standard 3).     3.        Strengthen support systems for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  In particular, support is given to community members (from the target group, relevant service-providers or other concerned members of the community) to self-organise so that they are able to develop and sustain their own responses to the needs of vulnerable children and their families.  These services reach children through their communities (see standard 4).     Within the community, the family strengthening programme works to ensure that all three elements of the package of services (as outlined above) are effectively addressed.  However, the particular services that are offered shall vary from programme to programme, according to differing situations from community to community.     While our organisation shall provide certain services, it is recognised that as the primary duty bearer government has the role of providing access to basic services, and to develop policies and practices that strengthen the care and protection of children and their families.  As such, we only provide services where there are gaps in service provision or where the rights of children within our target group are being violated, and where we are best placed to offer those particular services.  At the same time, we work towards the strengthening of government responses through advocacy on issues affecting our target group.  In particular, we work together with children, families, communities and other relevant stakeholders within the community to hold government authorities accountable to the commitments that they have made under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  In this way, the situation of all children at risk of losing the care of their family may eventually improve.     Family strengthening work is carried out through programmes.  This means that we do not necessarily need to build new facilities in order to carry out our work.  The use of existing infrastructure is promoted, whether through SOS facilities (e.g. social centres, medical centres, and educational facilities) or other available facilities within the community.  Also, we build on our wealth of experience, knowledge and skills as a social development organisation, in particular on our childcare expertise, to develop family strengthening programmes and innovate new approaches.      Family strengthening programmes are carried out in partnership with local implementation partners to ensure that they are effectively ‘rooted’ in the community and are jointly “owned” by these partner organisations and SOS.      Standards summary                                                                                                                                                             1.    Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group  Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.     2.    Children have access to essential services for their healthy development  We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.     3.    Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children  Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.     4.    Communities are empowered to respond effectively to the situation of vulnerable children & their families  We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.     5.    Partnerships are built to achieve common goals  We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.     6.    Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective  Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.                                                   Standards  &  Guidelines       1. Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group                                                                                                                                                            Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.    As an organisation, we continuously work towards our vision that “every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security”.  While there are certainly many children who could benefit from the care and support offered through our programmes, we need to use our resources wisely and focus our efforts, so that we are able to achieve the greatest impact.     Where children have already lost the care of their family, reunification with their biological family should be the primary concern.  If this is not possible or not in the best interest of the child, then children can be referred to family-based childcare programmes, including SOS Children's Villages.        Guidelines 1.       Our target group is specified according to the main factors that place children at risk of losing the care of their family: Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from the family vary according to different community settings.  They often include economic, political, socio-cultural, health and psycho-social factors.  The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely the children are to lose their care.  Based on an assessment of main risk factors in a particular community setting, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages, we identify high risk groups and so specify our target group.   2.       Clear criteria are set to identify those children within our target group who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances: Specific issues that increase vulnerability of children and their families shall vary from community to community. For example, according to social status; gender; age; ethnicity; health status; location or type of home; etc. Therefore, vulnerability criteria are developed in consultation with community members, including children from our target group as well as their care-givers.  The criteria are set during the process of programme design, and are used as the basis for prioritising and selecting children from within the target group who shall participate in the programme.  3.       Children who do not fall within the target group are referred to other programmes or service-providers: Where support is requested for children who are not within our target group, these cases are referred to relevant professionals, organisations, institutions or other programmes for suitable support, according to the best interests of the child.    2.  Children have access to essential services for their healthy development                                                                                                                                                            We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.     It is recognised that children hold within them the potential for their own development.  Nevertheless, children have the right to a caring, protective and stimulating environment in which they can realise this potential.      Essential services that are required to support child development, include educational, nutritional, health and psycho-social support; improvement of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity.         Guidelines 1.      Services are provided based on the individual needs of each child within the family: Each child’s individual situation is assessed as part of the family development planning process (see standard 3 for further explanation).  Special attention is given to ensure non-discrimination in the provision of services based on such factors as gender.   2.      Children are empowered to be able to claim their rights: Children are supported to develop the capacity to access information, assert their rights and participate in relevant decision-making processes (including programme development). This involves participatory skills development and rights trainings for children.  A safe environment is created, where children can fully express their views.      3.  Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children                                                                                                                                                            Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.     Families themselves are responsible for their own development and for the care of their children.  They are considered to be self-reliant in the care of children when they have the knowledge, skills and resources to protect and fulfil their children's survival and development rights now and in the future.     Programme activities are designed to accompany families as they develop towards self-reliance, and offer relevant support as and when required.  This also includes empowering them to claim their rights from governments, as the primary duty bearer.        Guidelines 1.       Families are supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children for up to 5 years: A family can participate in the programme as long as they are working towards self-reliance.  How long this takes largely depends on what coping mechanisms the family already has in place, as well as what additional skills and resources they can build on during their capacity-building process.  Where children are living on their own, such as in sibling-headed households, support is provided until the children have completed their basic education, and have the required skills and resources to take full responsibility for their family.  2.       A structured family development planning process is followed towards self-reliance: The programme assesses carefully together with the family their individual situation, including the specific development needs of each child.  Gaps in the family's ability to care for their children are identified and clear goals set, with a view to filling these gaps.  Actions that the family can take towards reaching these goals are identified.  It is then decided what contribution the programme is able to make, with what conditions and for how long.  These goals are set and contributions agreed, on the understanding that the family shall withdraw from the programme once the goals have been reached.  Documentation of this process, in the form of a family development plan, provides a basis to monitor the progress and successes of each family.  Age-appropriate participation of the children in this process is encouraged.     3.       Care-givers are supported to improve their knowledge and skills in parenting and child development: We support care-givers to increase their knowledge and improve their practical skills, so that they are able to improve the quality of child care, addressing the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development of the children.  This is an area where we can draw from our organisation’s long experience in the training and development of childcare professionals.  4.       Caring and stable relationships are promoted within the family: For the healthy development of children, it is essential that they grow in a family that can maintain loving and caring relationships and where family members can adapt and cope positively with changing life situations and difficulties.  We can support families using various methods and approaches, such as family life workshops, family and relationship counselling.  5.       Gender inequalities that place children at risk of losing the care of their family are addressed: Empowerment of women is essential to ensure adequate care and protection of children. By becoming empowered, female care-givers take control over their own lives and have a voice that allows them to overcome inequality in the family, at work and in the community.  At the same time, male family members are involved in finding solutions to shared problems, to make the solutions relevant and workable.  Specific activities include providing information and raising awareness of women's rights; legal information on gender-based violence and inheritance rights; female economic empowerment; as well as sexual and reproductive health.  6.       Families are supported towards material and financial self-sufficiency: Families need to secure a stable source of resources that they can live from and provide for the well-being of their children, now and in the future.  To do this, they can be supported to enhance their vocational skills, find suitable employment, start income-generating activities and/or produce their own food.  We can draw on the expertise of other service-providers which specialise in micro-financing and micro-enterprise development.  Also, families are equipped with the skills to effectively manage their resources, to reduce any debts, and obtain relevant legal advice.  7.       Families that are headed by a care-giver with a life threatening illness are given specific support: We aim to pro-long the life as well as to improve the quality of life of care-givers with a life threatening illness. A holistic approach is taken to the care and support of such care-givers, which can include counselling, support groups, positive living and wellness management programmes, as well as making referrals for appropriate medical treatment.  In this way, the quality of care that the care-giver is able to give to the children is being improved and the risk that the children are losing the care of their family is being reduced.    8.       Families are empowered to claim their rights and assume their responsibilities towards their children: Families are supported to develop their knowledge and understanding of the rights of the child.  In this way, they are enabled to claim their rights from the government (such as in the areas of social safety nets, food security, and job creation or income generation opportunities) and to create a family environment where those rights are respected and protected.  In particular, care-givers are supported to develop the skills to encourage and guide their children to participate in decision-making processes that affect their own lives, in their family, school, community and other levels of society.      4.  Communities are empowered to respond to the situation of children at risk & their families                                                                                                                                                               We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.     By firmly rooting family strengthening programmes within the community, a solid foundation is laid for lasting action to address the situation of our target group.  We build on existing formal and informal coping mechanisms within the community that have been developed to address the situation of vulnerable children and their families.     Community is defined as a group of people living in the same geographical area, with a shared sense of belonging and identity, and who share common interests.      Guidelines 1.       Communities are supported to organise around the problems of children at risk of losing the care of their family: Community members are actively encouraged not only to recognise the situation of vulnerable children within their community, but also to take action to address their rights, needs and priorities. During the design of the programme, we facilitate processes that lead people, groups, organisations and institutions within the community to respond to these problems.  This includes children from our target group and their care-givers, who are encouraged to participate in finding solutions and to use the opportunity to take control over their own lives. At this time, the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders within the community are made clear.  Where community responses have already been initiated, we support their further development.  2.       A step-by-step approach is taken to build self-reliance of community responses: We work with a clear goal of building knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources in the community, so that ultimately responses to the situation of vulnerable children can be initiated, planned, implemented, managed, monitored and evaluated from within the community itself.  Building self-reliance within the community is a process. In the beginning, SOS plays a more active role, but this decreases over time as more and more responsibility is taken on within the community; until full responsibility for management and further development of the programme is assumed by the community.  3.       Community child care and support services and networks are supported: We support the development of community-based organisations, structures and self-help groups, so that they can improve the quality of services offered to vulnerable children and their families.  Also, we support the development of community networks, bringing together the various people, organisations and institutions within the community involved in the care and support of vulnerable children.  In doing so, we work hand-in-hand with other service-providers to take effective and coordinated action.  Where such community-based organisations and networks do not exist we support establishment of new ones.  4.       Material support is channelled to children and families through implementation partners: Programme services are implemented in partnership with community-based structures, organisations or self-help groups.  Where these implementation partners lack the capacity to effectively manage material and financial resources, with efficiency and accountability, we take a step-by-step approach to help them to build it.  Over time, we support these partners to move towards self-sufficiency, so that they can provide the required resources themselves.  In doing this, we help the community to help themselves and avoid creating dependency of programme participants on our organisation.   5.       Awareness of child rights is built within the community: Knowledge and understanding of children’s rights is promoted within the community, highlighting the obligations and responsibilities of community members to respect and protect these rights within their families and community.  Attention is given to the role community members can play in responding to child rights violations in their community and in collectively advocating for change where the well-being and rights of children are being undermined.  In particular, they are empowered to hold government accountable for ensuring access to basic services, such as education, health and other social security provisions.             5.  Partnerships are built to achieve common goals                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.     Our programmes are able to have a greater impact on the lives of the children within our target group when we combine our efforts with like-minded partners and those who provide complementary services and resources.  Services are provided through the most appropriate channel. We only provide services where we have got the required competency and resources, and if no other provider with acceptable service quality is available.     Guidelines 1.       Programme services are implemented in partnership with local organisations or groups: We seek and enter formal partnership agreements with implementation partners, anchoring the programme within the community.  Such partners can be community-based organisations or structures, self-help groups, local NGOs or local authorities.  Over time, it is expected that the implementation partner shall build the capacity to take full responsibility for ensuring service delivery and ongoing development of the programme.  2.       Complementary services are provided by other organisations: Services should be provided by individuals, organisations or institutions that are best placed to do so. We may form informal or formal partnerships with these service-providers, to ensure that children and families who are being supported by the programme have access to a comprehensive range of services.   3.       Government responses are strengthened through knowledge sharing and other forms of cooperation: In this way, we encourage and support government to take on its responsibility as primary duty bearer to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of children and their families.  4.       Forums and networks that contribute to our objectives are actively supported: We support the development of relevant forums, networks and alliances, including the establishment of new ones where they do not already exist.  The benefits of participation can include sharing of information and resources, as well as more effective coordination of complementary activities and avoiding duplication of services.  It can also provide opportunities for advocacy on issues where the rights of our target group are being violated, with a view bringing about lasting positive change in their situation.  5.       Funding partners: We seek partnerships with other organisations, agencies, institutions, private individuals and businesses, which are able to support our programmes with financial and material resources.    6.  Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective                                                                                                                                                               Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.     Ultimately, the success of a programme is seen in the difference made in the lives of the children who make up our target group.  This goal guides every stage in the development of our programmes, as outlined in the following programme cycle:           Participation of key stakeholders is a core element in all stages of programme development.  In particular, we need to make sure that the voice of the children is heard, especially those within our target group; by giving them the opportunity to participate in ways that they are able to fully express themselves.  Special attention is also given to ensure that gender and other issues of discrimination which place children in a vulnerable position are addressed.      Guidelines    1.       Potential programme locations are identified through a country analysis: Strategic decisions about future programme locations are made based on a country-wide analysis of the situation of children within our target group. Programmes are only developed in communities that meet set criteria, including evidence of high numbers of children who are at risk of losing the care of their family, lack of capacity within the community to respond to their situation, but likely community support for such responses.  2.       The choice of a community is confirmed by a situation analysis: Building on the country analysis, further information is collected and analysed in the identified location. This includes key factors why children are at risk of losing the care of their family, the scale of this problem and which rights are being violated.  Gaps in existing responses are identified and the question of what our organisation can contribute is considered, reflecting on our expertise and availability of other resources.   3.       Key stakeholders are identified through a stakeholder analysis: Individuals, organisations and institutions who are interested or affected by the planned programme are identified, and their interests and possible involvement defined.  This will also lead us to organisations that have an interest and the capacity to be partners in the planned programme.  At this stage, the commitment of government authorities and other relevant stakeholders is secured.   4.       The programme is designed together with the target group and other key partners: Information is gathered through a household survey, including where children at risk are; the number and size of their households; the age and gender of care-givers; relationship with care-givers; sources of support for these children; and so on.  A participatory process is then used to identify the most vulnerable within our target group; what is already being done to address their rights, needs and priorities; what more needs to be done; who can do it; and with what resources.  Based on this research, a clear plan of action, as well as a monitoring and evaluation plan, is drawn-up.  Participation of children from the target group and their care-givers is essential.  During this process, programme partnerships are formalised, the support of government authorities is confirmed and strategies to ensure sustainability of the programme are developed.  5.       Progress towards objectives is continuously monitored during implementation: The process of service provision and changes in the situation of the target group are monitored. When activities start, baseline information is collected from programme participants to assess the situation at the beginning of interventions, so that later judgements about impact can be made. This information is linked to the monitoring and evaluation plan and considers previously collected data. A consistent information gathering system is put in place to ensure that information is collected at programme level to inform programme development, and can be consolidated and filtered to meet information requirements of the wider organisation.  6.       An annual planning process is implemented: Programme planning is carried out once a year together with the implementation partners, based on the organisation’s policy frames for planning.  Participation of members of the target group and other key stakeholders within the community is essential.  A key input to this process is a programme self-evaluation.  7.       A programme impact evaluation is carried out every 3-5 years: This evaluation supplies valuable information on the achievement of the programme’s goal and objectives, evaluating the difference that the programme has actually made in the lives of the target group.  Relevant indicators for assessment of impact are defined as part of the monitoring and evaluation plan, during programme design. By comparing baseline information, gathered during programme design and at the onset of interventions with data collected later, impact can be measured. Such evaluations are carried out by external consultants and participatory approaches are used.  8.       Sustainability of the programme is built: Our goal is that support services provided to children and families through the programme continue, even when our direct involvement ends. Based on strategies developed during programme design, we work together with our implementation partners and provide them with capacity-building support, with a view to their taking over full responsibility for running the programme in the long-term. In cases where implementation partners are unable to take responsibility for particular services, we may consider assuming such responsibility and secure local funding as a service provider, particularly through government funding sources. As our direct involvement in the programme within a particular community is reduced, any resources that are made available may be committed to a programme in another community.  9.       Resources are used efficiently and responsibly: More children are reached primarily by investing in and working through people (our partners in community and/or SOS co-workers) rather than through additional buildings and equipment.  A full-time programme coordinator is put in place in each location, to lead the establishment and ongoing development of the programme.  The number of additional co-workers required for the efficient operation of a programme is defined during programme design. RISK FACTORS ð HIGH RISK GROUPS ð TARGET GROUP  The biological family includes the children's birth parents, biological siblings and other relatives.   Children are considered to have lost the care of their family when they have been physically separated from their family.  This includes situations where:  ·          Children's care-givers pass away  ·          Children are abandoned by their family  ·          Children run away from their family  ·          Children are sent away by their family for economic reasons  ·          Children are separated from their family due to political or environmental circumstances  ·          Care-givers leave the family home for economic opportunities  ·          State authorities remove the child from their family (which can be necessary when in the best interests of the child)  As a result, children are often placed in institutional care or exposed to a life on the street, sexual exploitation and child labour.  This is what our organisation has set out to prevent.   Children are viewed as being at risk of losing the care of their family when their basic material, emotional, health and educational needs are being neglected or they are abused, because their care-givers lack the capacity or commitment to adequately care for their children.  Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from their families vary from one community setting to another, and are often culture-bound. These risk factors may include:   The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely that the children are to lose their care.  Typical high risk groups include families where:  Families where…  including…  ·       Children are living with a single parent  [ Parent is unmarried, widowed, divorced, separated or abandoned  ·       Children are living with a 'de facto' single parent  [ One parent is physically unable to provide childcare, e.g. due to illness, disability, or in prison  ·       Children have lost their parents  [ Children have lost their mother, father, or both parents  ·       Children are living in an orphan household  [ Household sheltering orphans, where care-giver is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or other relative  ·       Children whose parents have a life threatening illness  [ Parent is living with HIV/AIDS or another life threatening illness  ·       Children whose parent is living with a new partner or re-marries  [ Children are not accepted by the new partner  ·       There are many children (definition of "many" depends on context)  [ Families are struggling to care for that number of children  ·       The parents and children are discriminated against due to their ethnicity  [ Members of an ethnic minority group who are discriminated against within society     However, what is considered to be a high risk group in one community setting may not be so in another community setting.  The definition of high risk groups within a community depends on the extent to which children and families of that community are affected by the various risk factors.  It is therefore necessary to assess what the main risk factors are that put children most at risk of losing the care of their family, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages.  Based on these, it is possible to specify the target group within a community.  For example, in communities which have been hit hard by HIV/AIDS, the single biggest risk factor is likely to be the impact of the epidemic itself, and the target group shall include children whose parents have a life threatening illness, children who have lost their parents and children living in orphan households.  In other community settings, the range and balance of main risk factors shall be different and the composition of the target group will vary accordingly.     Programme services are directed towards families with children under-18 years of age, who fall within the target group.  Services are made available to the family as a whole, including all of the children and care-givers within the family.  While children at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group, we also work with their care-givers, as they are empowered to develop their capacity to protect and care for their children.      OUR PROGRAMME SERVICES  Each programme is made up of a package of services to support families and communities to assume their responsibility to protect and care for their children; as well as to encourage and support the government and other duty bearers to meet their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children.  At the same time, we empower children and their families to claim their rights from the government and other duty bearers.                       This package of services is designed to:     1.        Ensure that children have access to essential services required fulfilling their survival and development, protection and participation rights. This includes educational, nutrition, health and psycho-social support; improvements of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity. These services reach children directly (see standard 2).     2.        Support families to build their capacity to protect and care for their children.  This includes supporting care-givers to develop their parenting knowledge and skills; to secure a stable source of resources (e.g. income and food production) to provide for their children’s development needs now and in the future; and to manage their resources efficiently.  These services reach children through their families (see standard 3).     3.        Strengthen support systems for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  In particular, support is given to community members (from the target group, relevant service-providers or other concerned members of the community) to self-organise so that they are able to develop and sustain their own responses to the needs of vulnerable children and their families.  These services reach children through their communities (see standard 4).     Within the community, the family strengthening programme works to ensure that all three elements of the package of services (as outlined above) are effectively addressed.  However, the particular services that are offered shall vary from programme to programme, according to differing situations from community to community.     While our organisation shall provide certain services, it is recognised that as the primary duty bearer government has the role of providing access to basic services, and to develop policies and practices that strengthen the care and protection of children and their families.  As such, we only provide services where there are gaps in service provision or where the rights of children within our target group are being violated, and where we are best placed to offer those particular services.  At the same time, we work towards the strengthening of government responses through advocacy on issues affecting our target group.  In particular, we work together with children, families, communities and other relevant stakeholders within the community to hold government authorities accountable to the commitments that they have made under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  In this way, the situation of all children at risk of losing the care of their family may eventually improve.     Family strengthening work is carried out through programmes.  This means that we do not necessarily need to build new facilities in order to carry out our work.  The use of existing infrastructure is promoted, whether through SOS facilities (e.g. social centres, medical centres, and educational facilities) or other available facilities within the community.  Also, we build on our wealth of experience, knowledge and skills as a social development organisation, in particular on our childcare expertise, to develop family strengthening programmes and innovate new approaches.      Family strengthening programmes are carried out in partnership with local implementation partners to ensure that they are effectively ‘rooted’ in the community and are jointly “owned” by these partner organisations and SOS.      Standards summary                                                                                                                                                             1.    Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group  Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.     2.    Children have access to essential services for their healthy development  We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.     3.    Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children  Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.     4.    Communities are empowered to respond effectively to the situation of vulnerable children & their families  We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.     5.    Partnerships are built to achieve common goals  We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.     6.    Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective  Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.                                                   Standards  &  Guidelines       1. Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group                                                                                                                                                            Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.    As an organisation, we continuously work towards our vision that “every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security”.  While there are certainly many children who could benefit from the care and support offered through our programmes, we need to use our resources wisely and focus our efforts, so that we are able to achieve the greatest impact.     Where children have already lost the care of their family, reunification with their biological family should be the primary concern.  If this is not possible or not in the best interest of the child, then children can be referred to family-based childcare programmes, including SOS Children's Villages.        Guidelines 1.       Our target group is specified according to the main factors that place children at risk of losing the care of their family: Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from the family vary according to different community settings.  They often include economic, political, socio-cultural, health and psycho-social factors.  The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely the children are to lose their care.  Based on an assessment of main risk factors in a particular community setting, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages, we identify high risk groups and so specify our target group.   2.       Clear criteria are set to identify those children within our target group who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances: Specific issues that increase vulnerability of children and their families shall vary from community to community. For example, according to social status; gender; age; ethnicity; health status; location or type of home; etc. Therefore, vulnerability criteria are developed in consultation with community members, including children from our target group as well as their care-givers.  The criteria are set during the process of programme design, and are used as the basis for prioritising and selecting children from within the target group who shall participate in the programme.  3.       Children who do not fall within the target group are referred to other programmes or service-providers: Where support is requested for children who are not within our target group, these cases are referred to relevant professionals, organisations, institutions or other programmes for suitable support, according to the best interests of the child.    2.  Children have access to essential services for their healthy development                                                                                                                                                            We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.     It is recognised that children hold within them the potential for their own development.  Nevertheless, children have the right to a caring, protective and stimulating environment in which they can realise this potential.      Essential services that are required to support child development, include educational, nutritional, health and psycho-social support; improvement of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity.         Guidelines 1.      Services are provided based on the individual needs of each child within the family: Each child’s individual situation is assessed as part of the family development planning process (see standard 3 for further explanation).  Special attention is given to ensure non-discrimination in the provision of services based on such factors as gender.   2.      Children are empowered to be able to claim their rights: Children are supported to develop the capacity to access information, assert their rights and participate in relevant decision-making processes (including programme development). This involves participatory skills development and rights trainings for children.  A safe environment is created, where children can fully express their views.      3.  Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children                                                                                                                                                            Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.     Families themselves are responsible for their own development and for the care of their children.  They are considered to be self-reliant in the care of children when they have the knowledge, skills and resources to protect and fulfil their children's survival and development rights now and in the future.     Programme activities are designed to accompany families as they develop towards self-reliance, and offer relevant support as and when required.  This also includes empowering them to claim their rights from governments, as the primary duty bearer.        Guidelines 1.       Families are supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children for up to 5 years: A family can participate in the programme as long as they are working towards self-reliance.  How long this takes largely depends on what coping mechanisms the family already has in place, as well as what additional skills and resources they can build on during their capacity-building process.  Where children are living on their own, such as in sibling-headed households, support is provided until the children have completed their basic education, and have the required skills and resources to take full responsibility for their family.  2.       A structured family development planning process is followed towards self-reliance: The programme assesses carefully together with the family their individual situation, including the specific development needs of each child.  Gaps in the family's ability to care for their children are identified and clear goals set, with a view to filling these gaps.  Actions that the family can take towards reaching these goals are identified.  It is then decided what contribution the programme is able to make, with what conditions and for how long.  These goals are set and contributions agreed, on the understanding that the family shall withdraw from the programme once the goals have been reached.  Documentation of this process, in the form of a family development plan, provides a basis to monitor the progress and successes of each family.  Age-appropriate participation of the children in this process is encouraged.     3.       Care-givers are supported to improve their knowledge and skills in parenting and child development: We support care-givers to increase their knowledge and improve their practical skills, so that they are able to improve the quality of child care, addressing the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development of the children.  This is an area where we can draw from our organisation’s long experience in the training and development of childcare professionals.  4.       Caring and stable relationships are promoted within the family: For the healthy development of children, it is essential that they grow in a family that can maintain loving and caring relationships and where family members can adapt and cope positively with changing life situations and difficulties.  We can support families using various methods and approaches, such as family life workshops, family and relationship counselling.  5.       Gender inequalities that place children at risk of losing the care of their family are addressed: Empowerment of women is essential to ensure adequate care and protection of children. By becoming empowered, female care-givers take control over their own lives and have a voice that allows them to overcome inequality in the family, at work and in the community.  At the same time, male family members are involved in finding solutions to shared problems, to make the solutions relevant and workable.  Specific activities include providing information and raising awareness of women's rights; legal information on gender-based violence and inheritance rights; female economic empowerment; as well as sexual and reproductive health.  6.       Families are supported towards material and financial self-sufficiency: Families need to secure a stable source of resources that they can live from and provide for the well-being of their children, now and in the future.  To do this, they can be supported to enhance their vocational skills, find suitable employment, start income-generating activities and/or produce their own food.  We can draw on the expertise of other service-providers which specialise in micro-financing and micro-enterprise development.  Also, families are equipped with the skills to effectively manage their resources, to reduce any debts, and obtain relevant legal advice.  7.       Families that are headed by a care-giver with a life threatening illness are given specific support: We aim to pro-long the life as well as to improve the quality of life of care-givers with a life threatening illness. A holistic approach is taken to the care and support of such care-givers, which can include counselling, support groups, positive living and wellness management programmes, as well as making referrals for appropriate medical treatment.  In this way, the quality of care that the care-giver is able to give to the children is being improved and the risk that the children are losing the care of their family is being reduced.    8.       Families are empowered to claim their rights and assume their responsibilities towards their children: Families are supported to develop their knowledge and understanding of the rights of the child.  In this way, they are enabled to claim their rights from the government (such as in the areas of social safety nets, food security, and job creation or income generation opportunities) and to create a family environment where those rights are respected and protected.  In particular, care-givers are supported to develop the skills to encourage and guide their children to participate in decision-making processes that affect their own lives, in their family, school, community and other levels of society.      4.  Communities are empowered to respond to the situation of children at risk & their families                                                                                                                                                               We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.     By firmly rooting family strengthening programmes within the community, a solid foundation is laid for lasting action to address the situation of our target group.  We build on existing formal and informal coping mechanisms within the community that have been developed to address the situation of vulnerable children and their families.     Community is defined as a group of people living in the same geographical area, with a shared sense of belonging and identity, and who share common interests.      Guidelines 1.       Communities are supported to organise around the problems of children at risk of losing the care of their family: Community members are actively encouraged not only to recognise the situation of vulnerable children within their community, but also to take action to address their rights, needs and priorities. During the design of the programme, we facilitate processes that lead people, groups, organisations and institutions within the community to respond to these problems.  This includes children from our target group and their care-givers, who are encouraged to participate in finding solutions and to use the opportunity to take control over their own lives. At this time, the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders within the community are made clear.  Where community responses have already been initiated, we support their further development.  2.       A step-by-step approach is taken to build self-reliance of community responses: We work with a clear goal of building knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources in the community, so that ultimately responses to the situation of vulnerable children can be initiated, planned, implemented, managed, monitored and evaluated from within the community itself.  Building self-reliance within the community is a process. In the beginning, SOS plays a more active role, but this decreases over time as more and more responsibility is taken on within the community; until full responsibility for management and further development of the programme is assumed by the community.  3.       Community child care and support services and networks are supported: We support the development of community-based organisations, structures and self-help groups, so that they can improve the quality of services offered to vulnerable children and their families.  Also, we support the development of community networks, bringing together the various people, organisations and institutions within the community involved in the care and support of vulnerable children.  In doing so, we work hand-in-hand with other service-providers to take effective and coordinated action.  Where such community-based organisations and networks do not exist we support establishment of new ones.  4.       Material support is channelled to children and families through implementation partners: Programme services are implemented in partnership with community-based structures, organisations or self-help groups.  Where these implementation partners lack the capacity to effectively manage material and financial resources, with efficiency and accountability, we take a step-by-step approach to help them to build it.  Over time, we support these partners to move towards self-sufficiency, so that they can provide the required resources themselves.  In doing this, we help the community to help themselves and avoid creating dependency of programme participants on our organisation.   5.       Awareness of child rights is built within the community: Knowledge and understanding of children’s rights is promoted within the community, highlighting the obligations and responsibilities of community members to respect and protect these rights within their families and community.  Attention is given to the role community members can play in responding to child rights violations in their community and in collectively advocating for change where the well-being and rights of children are being undermined.  In particular, they are empowered to hold government accountable for ensuring access to basic services, such as education, health and other social security provisions.             5.  Partnerships are built to achieve common goals                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.     Our programmes are able to have a greater impact on the lives of the children within our target group when we combine our efforts with like-minded partners and those who provide complementary services and resources.  Services are provided through the most appropriate channel. We only provide services where we have got the required competency and resources, and if no other provider with acceptable service quality is available.     Guidelines 1.       Programme services are implemented in partnership with local organisations or groups: We seek and enter formal partnership agreements with implementation partners, anchoring the programme within the community.  Such partners can be community-based organisations or structures, self-help groups, local NGOs or local authorities.  Over time, it is expected that the implementation partner shall build the capacity to take full responsibility for ensuring service delivery and ongoing development of the programme.  2.       Complementary services are provided by other organisations: Services should be provided by individuals, organisations or institutions that are best placed to do so. We may form informal or formal partnerships with these service-providers, to ensure that children and families who are being supported by the programme have access to a comprehensive range of services.   3.       Government responses are strengthened through knowledge sharing and other forms of cooperation: In this way, we encourage and support government to take on its responsibility as primary duty bearer to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of children and their families.  4.       Forums and networks that contribute to our objectives are actively supported: We support the development of relevant forums, networks and alliances, including the establishment of new ones where they do not already exist.  The benefits of participation can include sharing of information and resources, as well as more effective coordination of complementary activities and avoiding duplication of services.  It can also provide opportunities for advocacy on issues where the rights of our target group are being violated, with a view bringing about lasting positive change in their situation.  5.       Funding partners: We seek partnerships with other organisations, agencies, institutions, private individuals and businesses, which are able to support our programmes with financial and material resources.    6.  Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective                                                                                                                                                               Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.     Ultimately, the success of a programme is seen in the difference made in the lives of the children who make up our target group.  This goal guides every stage in the development of our programmes, as outlined in the following programme cycle:           Participation of key stakeholders is a core element in all stages of programme development.  In particular, we need to make sure that the voice of the children is heard, especially those within our target group; by giving them the opportunity to participate in ways that they are able to fully express themselves.  Special attention is also given to ensure that gender and other issues of discrimination which place children in a vulnerable position are addressed.      Guidelines    1.       Potential programme locations are identified through a country analysis: Strategic decisions about future programme locations are made based on a country-wide analysis of the situation of children within our target group. Programmes are only developed in communities that meet set criteria, including evidence of high numbers of children who are at risk of losing the care of their family, lack of capacity within the community to respond to their situation, but likely community support for such responses.  2.       The choice of a community is confirmed by a situation analysis: Building on the country analysis, further information is collected and analysed in the identified location. This includes key factors why children are at risk of losing the care of their family, the scale of this problem and which rights are being violated.  Gaps in existing responses are identified and the question of what our organisation can contribute is considered, reflecting on our expertise and availability of other resources.   3.       Key stakeholders are identified through a stakeholder analysis: Individuals, organisations and institutions who are interested or affected by the planned programme are identified, and their interests and possible involvement defined.  This will also lead us to organisations that have an interest and the capacity to be partners in the planned programme.  At this stage, the commitment of government authorities and other relevant stakeholders is secured.   4.       The programme is designed together with the target group and other key partners: Information is gathered through a household survey, including where children at risk are; the number and size of their households; the age and gender of care-givers; relationship with care-givers; sources of support for these children; and so on.  A participatory process is then used to identify the most vulnerable within our target group; what is already being done to address their rights, needs and priorities; what more needs to be done; who can do it; and with what resources.  Based on this research, a clear plan of action, as well as a monitoring and evaluation plan, is drawn-up.  Participation of children from the target group and their care-givers is essential.  During this process, programme partnerships are formalised, the support of government authorities is confirmed and strategies to ensure sustainability of the programme are developed.  5.       Progress towards objectives is continuously monitored during implementation: The process of service provision and changes in the situation of the target group are monitored. When activities start, baseline information is collected from programme participants to assess the situation at the beginning of interventions, so that later judgements about impact can be made. This information is linked to the monitoring and evaluation plan and considers previously collected data. A consistent information gathering system is put in place to ensure that information is collected at programme level to inform programme development, and can be consolidated and filtered to meet information requirements of the wider organisation.  6.       An annual planning process is implemented: Programme planning is carried out once a year together with the implementation partners, based on the organisation’s policy frames for planning.  Participation of members of the target group and other key stakeholders within the community is essential.  A key input to this process is a programme self-evaluation.  7.       A programme impact evaluation is carried out every 3-5 years: This evaluation supplies valuable information on the achievement of the programme’s goal and objectives, evaluating the difference that the programme has actually made in the lives of the target group.  Relevant indicators for assessment of impact are defined as part of the monitoring and evaluation plan, during programme design. By comparing baseline information, gathered during programme design and at the onset of interventions with data collected later, impact can be measured. Such evaluations are carried out by external consultants and participatory approaches are used.  8.       Sustainability of the programme is built: Our goal is that support services provided to children and families through the programme continue, even when our direct involvement ends. Based on strategies developed during programme design, we work together with our implementation partners and provide them with capacity-building support, with a view to their taking over full responsibility for running the programme in the long-term. In cases where implementation partners are unable to take responsibility for particular services, we may consider assuming such responsibility and secure local funding as a service provider, particularly through government funding sources. As our direct involvement in the programme within a particular community is reduced, any resources that are made available may be committed to a programme in another community.  9.       Resources are used efficiently and responsibly: More children are reached primarily by investing in and working through people (our partners in community and/or SOS co-workers) rather than through additional buildings and equipment.  A full-time programme coordinator is put in place in each location, to lead the establishment and ongoing development of the programme.  The number of additional co-workers required for the efficient operation of a programme is defined during programme design.

The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely that the children are to lose their care.  Typical high risk groups include families where:

Families where…

including…

·       Children are living with a single parent

[ Parent is unmarried, widowed, divorced, separated or abandoned

·       Children are living with a 'de facto' single parent

[ One parent is physically unable to provide childcare, e.g. due to illness, disability, or in prison

·       Children have lost their parents

[ Children have lost their mother, father, or both parents

·       Children are living in an orphan household

[ Household sheltering orphans, where care-giver is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or other relative

·       Children whose parents have a life threatening illness

[ Parent is living with HIV/AIDS or another life threatening illness

·       Children whose parent is living with a new partner or re-marries

[ Children are not accepted by the new partner

·       There are many children (definition of "many" depends on context)

[ Families are struggling to care for that number of children

·       The parents and children are discriminated against due to their ethnicity

[ Members of an ethnic minority group who are discriminated against within society

However, what is considered to be a high risk group in one community setting may not be so in another community setting.  The definition of high risk groups within a community depends on the extent to which children and families of that community are affected by the various risk factors.  It is therefore necessary to assess what the main risk factors are that put children most at risk of losing the care of their family, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages.  Based on these, it is possible to specify the target group within a community.  For example, in communities which have been hit hard by HIV/AIDS, the single biggest risk factor is likely to be the impact of the epidemic itself, and the target group shall include children whose parents have a life threatening illness, children who have lost their parents and children living in orphan households.  In other community settings, the range and balance of main risk factors shall be different and the composition of the target group will vary accordingly.

Programme services are directed towards families with children under-18 years of age, who fall within the target group.  Services are made available to the family as a whole, including all of the children and care-givers within the family.  While children at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group, we also work with their care-givers, as they are empowered to develop their capacity to protect and care for their children.

OUR PROGRAMME SERVICES

Each programme is made up of a package of services to support families and communities to assume their responsibility to protect and care for their children; as well as to encourage and support the government and other duty bearers to meet their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children.  At the same time, we empower children and their families to claim their rights from the government and other duty bearers.

This package of services is designed to:

1.        Ensure that children have access to essential services required fulfilling their survival and development, protection and participation rights. This includes educational, nutrition, health and psycho-social support; improvements of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity. These services reach children directly (see standard 2).

2.        Support families to build their capacity to protect and care for their children.  This includes supporting care-givers to develop their parenting knowledge and skills; to secure a stable source of resources (e.g. income and food production) to provide for their children’s development needs now and in the future; and to manage their resources efficiently.  These services reach children through their families (see standard 3).

3.        Strengthen support systems for vulnerable children and their families within the community.  In particular, support is given to community members (from the target group, relevant service-providers or other concerned members of the community) to self-organise so that they are able to develop and sustain their own responses to the needs of vulnerable children and their families.  These services reach children through their communities (see standard 4).

Within the community, the family strengthening programme works to ensure that all three elements of the package of services (as outlined above) are effectively addressed.  However, the particular services that are offered shall vary from programme to programme, according to differing situations from community to community.

While our organisation shall provide certain services, it is recognised that as the primary duty bearer government has the role of providing access to basic services, and to develop policies and practices that strengthen the care and protection of children and their families.  As such, we only provide services where there are gaps in service provision or where the rights of children within our target group are being violated, and where we are best placed to offer those particular services.  At the same time, we work towards the strengthening of government responses through advocacy on issues affecting our target group.  In particular, we work together with children, families, communities and other relevant stakeholders within the community to hold government authorities accountable to the commitments that they have made under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  In this way, the situation of all children at risk of losing the care of their family may eventually improve.

Family strengthening work is carried out through programmes.  This means that we do not necessarily need to build new facilities in order to carry out our work.  The use of existing infrastructure is promoted, whether through SOS facilities (e.g. social centres, medical centres, and educational facilities) or other available facilities within the community.  Also, we build on our wealth of experience, knowledge and skills as a social development organisation, in particular on our childcare expertise, to develop family strengthening programmes and innovate new approaches. 

Family strengthening programmes are carried out in partnership with local implementation partners to ensure that they are effectively ‘rooted’ in the community and are jointly “owned” by these partner organisations and SOS.

Standards summary 

1.    Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are our target group

Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.

2.    Children have access to essential services for their healthy development

We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.

3.    Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect & care for their children

Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.

4.    Communities are empowered to respond effectively to the situation of vulnerable children & their families

We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.

5.    Partnerships are built to achieve common goals

We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.

6.    Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective

Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.

Standards

&

Guidelines 

1. Children most at risk of losing the care of 

Our programmes are targeted at those children who are most at risk of losing the care of their biological family.  This means identifying a clear target group and then focussing on those children who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances.

As an organisation, we continuously work towards our vision that “every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security”.  While there are certainly many children who could benefit from the care and support offered through our programmes, we need to use our resources wisely and focus our efforts, so that we are able to achieve the greatest impact.

Where children have already lost the care of their family, reunification with their biological family should be the primary concern.  If this is not possible or not in the best interest of the child, then children can be referred to family-based childcare programmes, including SOS Children's Villages.

Guidelines

1.       Our target group is specified according to the main factors that place children at risk of losing the care of their family: Factors increasing the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from the family vary according to different community settings.  They often include economic, political, socio-cultural, health and psycho-social factors.  The more severely families are affected by such risk factors, the more likely the children are to lose their care.  Based on an assessment of main risk factors in a particular community setting, including a review of reasons for admission at SOS Children’s Villages, we identify high risk groups and so specify our target group. 

2.       Clear criteria are set to identify those children within our target group who are living in the most vulnerable circumstances: Specific issues that increase vulnerability of children and their families shall vary from community to community. For example, according to social status; gender; age; ethnicity; health status; location or type of home; etc. Therefore, vulnerability criteria are developed in consultation with community members, including children from our target group as well as their care-givers.  The criteria are set during the process of programme design, and are used as the basis for prioritising and selecting children from within the target group who shall participate in the programme.

3.       Children who do not fall within the target group are referred to other programmes or service-providers: Where support is requested for children who are not within our target group, these cases are referred to relevant professionals, organisations, institutions or other programmes for suitable support, according to the best interests of the child. 

                                                                                                                                                      

 

We assist families, communities and governments to assume their responsibilities, in ensuring that children have access to the services required to fulfil their survival, development, protection and participation rights. Essential services may be provided, by the programme itself or through links with other service-providers, while the families are empowered to build their long-term self-reliance in providing care for their children.

It is recognised that children hold within them the potential for their own development.  Nevertheless, children have the right to a caring, protective and stimulating environment in which they can realise this potential. 

Essential services that are required to support child development, include educational, nutritional, health and psycho-social support; improvement of living conditions; as well as support to establish the child’s identity. 

Guidelines

1.      Services are provided based on the individual needs of each child within the family: Each child’s individual situation is assessed as part of the family development planning process (see standard 3 for further explanation).  Special attention is given to ensure non-discrimination in the provision of services based on such factors as gender. 

2.      Children are empowered to be able to claim their rights: Children are supported to develop the capacity to access information, assert their rights and participate in relevant decision-making processes (including programme development). This involves participatory skills development and rights trainings for children.  A safe environment is created, where children can fully express their views.  

Each family is supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children, using a structured family development planning process. Various areas of family life are addressed and the development of the required knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources is supported through a package of services, tailored to the situation of each individual family.

Families themselves are responsible for their own development and for the care of their children.  They are considered to be self-reliant in the care of children when they have the knowledge, skills and resources to protect and fulfil their children's survival and development rights now and in the future.

Programme activities are designed to accompany families as they develop towards self-reliance, and offer relevant support as and when required.  This also includes empowering them to claim their rights from governments, as the primary duty bearer.

Guidelines

1.       Families are supported to become self-reliant in the care of their children for up to 5 years: A family can participate in the programme as long as they are working towards self-reliance.  How long this takes largely depends on what coping mechanisms the family already has in place, as well as what additional skills and resources they can build on during their capacity-building process.  Where children are living on their own, such as in sibling-headed households, support is provided until the children have completed their basic education, and have the required skills and resources to take full responsibility for their family.

2.       A structured family development planning process is followed towards self-reliance: The programme assesses carefully together with the family their individual situation, including the specific development needs of each child.  Gaps in the family's ability to care for their children are identified and clear goals set, with a view to filling these gaps.  Actions that the family can take towards reaching these goals are identified.  It is then decided what contribution the programme is able to make, with what conditions and for how long.  These goals are set and contributions agreed, on the understanding that the family shall withdraw from the programme once the goals have been reached.  Documentation of this process, in the form of a family development plan, provides a basis to monitor the progress and successes of each family.  Age-appropriate participation of the children in this process is encouraged.

3.       Care-givers are supported to improve their knowledge and skills in parenting and child development: We support care-givers to increase their knowledge and improve their practical skills, so that they are able to improve the quality of child care, addressing the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development of the children.  This is an area where we can draw from our organisation’s long experience in the training and development of childcare professionals.

4.       Caring and stable relationships are promoted within the family: For the healthy development of children, it is essential that they grow in a family that can maintain loving and caring relationships and where family members can adapt and cope positively with changing life situations and difficulties.  We can support families using various methods and approaches, such as family life workshops, family and relationship counselling.

5.       Gender inequalities that place children at risk of losing the care of their family are addressed: Empowerment of women is essential to ensure adequate care and protection of children. By becoming empowered, female care-givers take control over their own lives and have a voice that allows them to overcome inequality in the family, at work and in the community.  At the same time, male family members are involved in finding solutions to shared problems, to make the solutions relevant and workable.  Specific activities include providing information and raising awareness of women's rights; legal information on gender-based violence and inheritance rights; female economic empowerment; as well as sexual and reproductive health.

6.       Families are supported towards material and financial self-sufficiency: Families need to secure a stable source of resources that they can live from and provide for the well-being of their children, now and in the future.  To do this, they can be supported to enhance their vocational skills, find suitable employment, start income-generating activities and/or produce their own food.  We can draw on the expertise of other service-providers which specialise in micro-financing and micro-enterprise development.  Also, families are equipped with the skills to effectively manage their resources, to reduce any debts, and obtain relevant legal advice.

7.       Families that are headed by a care-giver with a life threatening illness are given specific support: We aim to pro-long the life as well as to improve the quality of life of care-givers with a life threatening illness. A holistic approach is taken to the care and support of such care-givers, which can include counselling, support groups, positive living and wellness management programmes, as well as making referrals for appropriate medical treatment.  In this way, the quality of care that the care-giver is able to give to the children is being improved and the risk that the children are losing the care of their family is being reduced.  

8.       Families are empowered to claim their rights and assume their responsibilities towards their children: Families are supported to develop their knowledge and understanding of the rights of the child.  In this way, they are enabled to claim their rights from the government (such as in the areas of social safety nets, food security, and job creation or income generation opportunities) and to create a family environment where those rights are respected and protected.  In particular, care-givers are supported to develop the skills to encourage and guide their children to participate in decision-making processes that affect their own lives, in their family, school, community and other levels of society.

We support the community to organise themselves, to address the situation of vulnerable children now and in the future.  Development of sustainable community-based child care and support organisations and networks is actively supported.  We work towards the clear goal of communities becoming self-reliant in the support of children who are at risk of losing the care of their families.

By firmly rooting family strengthening programmes within the community, a solid foundation is laid for lasting action to address the situation of our target group.  We build on existing formal and informal coping mechanisms within the community that have been developed to address the situation of vulnerable children and their families.

Community is defined as a group of people living in the same geographical area, with a shared sense of belonging and identity, and who share common interests. 

Guidelines

1.       Communities are supported to organise around the problems of children at risk of losing the care of their family: Community members are actively encouraged not only to recognise the situation of vulnerable children within their community, but also to take action to address their rights, needs and priorities. During the design of the programme, we facilitate processes that lead people, groups, organisations and institutions within the community to respond to these problems.  This includes children from our target group and their care-givers, who are encouraged to participate in finding solutions and to use the opportunity to take control over their own lives. At this time, the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders within the community are made clear.  Where community responses have already been initiated, we support their further development.

2.       A step-by-step approach is taken to build self-reliance of community responses: We work with a clear goal of building knowledge, skills, confidence and other resources in the community, so that ultimately responses to the situation of vulnerable children can be initiated, planned, implemented, managed, monitored and evaluated from within the community itself.  Building self-reliance within the community is a process. In the beginning, SOS plays a more active role, but this decreases over time as more and more responsibility is taken on within the community; until full responsibility for management and further development of the programme is assumed by the community.

3.       Community child care and support services and networks are supported: We support the development of community-based organisations, structures and self-help groups, so that they can improve the quality of services offered to vulnerable children and their families.  Also, we support the development of community networks, bringing together the various people, organisations and institutions within the community involved in the care and support of vulnerable children.  In doing so, we work hand-in-hand with other service-providers to take effective and coordinated action.  Where such community-based organisations and networks do not exist we support establishment of new ones.

4.       Material support is channelled to children and families through implementation partners: Programme services are implemented in partnership with community-based structures, organisations or self-help groups.  Where these implementation partners lack the capacity to effectively manage material and financial resources, with efficiency and accountability, we take a step-by-step approach to help them to build it.  Over time, we support these partners to move towards self-sufficiency, so that they can provide the required resources themselves.  In doing this, we help the community to help themselves and avoid creating dependency of programme participants on our organisation. 

5.       Awareness of child rights is built within the community: Knowledge and understanding of children’s rights is promoted within the community, highlighting the obligations and responsibilities of community members to respect and protect these rights within their families and community.  Attention is given to the role community members can play in responding to child rights violations in their community and in collectively advocating for change where the well-being and rights of children are being undermined.  In particular, they are empowered to hold government accountable for ensuring access to basic services, such as education, health and other social security provisions.   


5.  Partnerships are built to

achieve common goals                                       

We work together with individuals, groups, organisations and institutions, wherever this contributes to the achievement of our programme objectives.  Through our cooperation with government authorities, the community and other duty bearers we encourage and support them to meet their obligations towards children and their families.

Our programmes are able to have a greater impact on the lives of the children within our target group when we combine our efforts with like-minded partners and those who provide complementary services and resources.  Services are provided through the most appropriate channel. We only provide services where we have got the required competency and resources, and if no other provider with acceptable service quality is available.

Guidelines

1.       Programme services are implemented in partnership with local organisations or groups: We seek and enter formal partnership agreements with implementation partners, anchoring the programme within the community.  Such partners can be community-based organisations or structures, self-help groups, local NGOs or local authorities.  Over time, it is expected that the implementation partner shall build the capacity to take full responsibility for ensuring service delivery and ongoing development of the programme.

2.       Complementary services are provided by other organisations: Services should be provided by individuals, organisations or institutions that are best placed to do so. We may form informal or formal partnerships with these service-providers, to ensure that children and families who are being supported by the programme have access to a comprehensive range of services. 

3.       Government responses are strengthened through knowledge sharing and other forms of cooperation: In this way, we encourage and support government to take on its responsibility as primary duty bearer to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of children and their families.

4.       Forums and networks that contribute to our objectives are actively supported: We support the development of relevant forums, networks and alliances, including the establishment of new ones where they do not already exist.  The benefits of participation can include sharing of information and resources, as well as more effective coordination of complementary activities and avoiding duplication of services.  It can also provide opportunities for advocacy on issues where the rights of our target group are being violated, with a view bringing about lasting positive change in their situation.

5.       Funding partners: We seek partnerships with other organisations, agencies, institutions, private individuals and businesses, which are able to support our programmes with financial and material resources. 

6.  Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation makes programmes relevant & effective

 Our programmes are designed according to the needs and priorities of children at risk of losing the care of their family. This involves in-depth assessment of the situation of our target group within the community.  Based on this, clear action plans are drawn-up, and tools for ongoing monitoring and evaluation are put in place.

Ultimately, the success of a programme is seen in the difference made in the lives of the children who make up our target group.  This goal guides every stage in the development of our programmes, as outlined in the following programme cycle: 

 

Participation of key stakeholders is a core element in all stages of programme development.  In particular, we need to make sure that the voice of the children is heard, especially those within our target group; by giving them the opportunity to participate in ways that they are able to fully express themselves.  Special attention is also given to ensure that gender and other issues of discrimination which place children in a vulnerable position are addressed.

Guidelines

1.       Potential programme locations are identified through a country analysis: Strategic decisions about future programme locations are made based on a country-wide analysis of the situation of children within our target group. Programmes are only developed in communities that meet set criteria, including evidence of high numbers of children who are at risk of losing the care of their family, lack of capacity within the community to respond to their situation, but likely community support for such responses.

2.       The choice of a community is confirmed by a situation analysis: Building on the country analysis, further information is collected and analysed in the identified location. This includes key factors why children are at risk of losing the care of their family, the scale of this problem and which rights are being violated.  Gaps in existing responses are identified and the question of what our organisation can contribute is considered, reflecting on our expertise and availability of other resources. 

3.       Key stakeholders are identified through a stakeholder analysis: Individuals, organisations and institutions who are interested or affected by the planned programme are identified, and their interests and possible involvement defined.  This will also lead us to organisations that have an interest and the capacity to be partners in the planned programme.  At this stage, the commitment of government authorities and other relevant stakeholders is secured. 

4.       The programme is designed together with the target group and other key partners: Information is gathered through a household survey, including where children at risk are; the number and size of their households; the age and gender of care-givers; relationship with care-givers; sources of support for these children; and so on.  A participatory process is then used to identify the most vulnerable within our target group; what is already being done to address their rights, needs and priorities; what more needs to be done; who can do it; and with what resources.  Based on this research, a clear plan of action, as well as a monitoring and evaluation plan, is drawn-up.  Participation of children from the target group and their care-givers is essential.  During this process, programme partnerships are formalised, the support of government authorities is confirmed and strategies to ensure sustainability of the programme are developed.

5.       Progress towards objectives is continuously monitored during implementation: The process of service provision and changes in the situation of the target group are monitored. When activities start, baseline information is collected from programme participants to assess the situation at the beginning of interventions, so that later judgements about impact can be made. This information is linked to the monitoring and evaluation plan and considers previously collected data. A consistent information gathering system is put in place to ensure that information is collected at programme level to inform programme development, and can be consolidated and filtered to meet information requirements of the wider organisation.

6.       An annual planning process is implemented: Programme planning is carried out once a year together with the implementation partners, based on the organisation’s policy frames for planning.  Participation of members of the target group and other key stakeholders within the community is essential.  A key input to this process is a programme self-evaluation.

7.       A programme impact evaluation is carried out every 3-5 years: This evaluation supplies valuable information on the achievement of the programme’s goal and objectives, evaluating the difference that the programme has actually made in the lives of the target group.  Relevant indicators for assessment of impact are defined as part of the monitoring and evaluation plan, during programme design. By comparing baseline information, gathered during programme design and at the onset of interventions with data collected later, impact can be measured. Such evaluations are carried out by external consultants and participatory approaches are used.

8.       Sustainability of the programme is built: Our goal is that support services provided to children and families through the programme continue, even when our direct involvement ends. Based on strategies developed during programme design, we work together with our implementation partners and provide them with capacity-building support, with a view to their taking over full responsibility for running the programme in the long-term. In cases where implementation partners are unable to take responsibility for particular services, we may consider assuming such responsibility and secure local funding as a service provider, particularly through government funding sources. As our direct involvement in the programme within a particular community is reduced, any resources that are made available may be committed to a programme in another community.

9.       Resources are used efficiently and responsibly: More children are reached primarily by investing in and working through people (our partners in community and/or SOS co-workers) rather than through additional buildings and equipment.  A full-time programme coordinator is put in place in each location, to lead the establishment and ongoing development of the programme.  The number of additional co-workers required for the efficient operation of a programme is defined during programme design.

 

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