Families at risk of separation: Policy implications (Part 2)
Continuing with the theme of developing policies and plans that focus on providing support to families in order to prevent separation, on page 55 of the handbook Moving Forward: Implementing the ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’, the authors provided ideas specifically related to development of national alternative care services. These recommended that the aim of policies and plans should achieve the following:
Targeting services at families in specific circumstances:
- Provide services for children with disabilities and other special needs so that parents and families get the support they need. This could include: the provision of day care and respite care; access to education and vocational training for children; health and rehabilitation services; and physical adaptations and equipment;
- Provide support to young parents including: pre-and postnatal care; public awareness raising to reduce stigma; financial assistance; and support for young parents in continuing their studies;
- Provide support to single parents including: public awareness raising to reduce stigma; access to day care; and financial assistance where required;
- Provide support to parents who were unable to grow up with their own parents and were in alternative care as children;
- Provide support to parents who have disabilities, are in ill health or are vulnerable for other reasons;
- Provide support to children in child-headed households with specific attention to their needs including: child protection and legal protection; financial assistance; and access to education, health, and supportive services.
Strengthening work with families:
- Ensure that support to families is provided without discrimination or stigmatisation and is culturally sensitive. This should be supported through awareness raising and by promoting anti-discriminatory policies;
- Provide training for professionals including carers, teachers, doctors, health visitors and police officers so that they are able to identify children who are at risk and families needing support;
- Involve children and parents with experience of family support services or alternative care in the training of professionals, to give professionals a better understanding of the needs of families and the obstacles that need to be addressed to meet them;
- Ensure that there is involvement of parents in developing family strengthening services and in planning the support that they need;
- Provide leadership so that public, private, NGO and civil society organisations develop coordinated and collaborative approaches to supporting families;
- Work in partnership with the media to encourage wider societal awareness of the needs of families and the importance of supporting parents.