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Case Management: Development of Care and Protection Plans

How care and protection plans should be developed.
Hello. I am Margarita Zerón. I am a sociologist by trade. I’m in charge of all the programmes here in Casa Alianza. I coordinate all that goes on in Casa Alianza which is for all the Central American children seeking asylum in Mexico. Since the children come to our community, we prepare from the start, to receive them with posters, balloons, something special, so other children and the personnel can welcome them in a special way. At the same time as we receive them, we do interviews where we begin to gather their information - their needs. Retrospectively the judicial aspect comes in, which is who receives the child. We have the Legal team, they receive the child and they know their legal status.
They know what procedure is necessary or if there are children that have started the process to gain refugee status. So then, the judicial process begins and strengthens this entire legal process. In order to achieve the objective to gain full residency in Mexico. The medical team, also assess their (the young person) medical needs. The pedagogical team also assess them; most children come with very little schooling or they have fallen behind in school. The objective of Casa Alianza, with all those teams and assessments is to reinstate the children’s rights, so they can go back to school or have their legal regularisation.
They begin this entire part of the regularisation of their education, which for the most part begins with primary school and continues to secondary school. And we have had cases of college. So then, this is the area of pedagogy together with social work. Social workers also assist for all these interviews, and knowing their needs on an academic level. They can offer schooling, offer training, so they know what skills the children find out they have to integrate better. In the case of the Casa Alianza, we provide training (for example restaurant training) so they can see that there are job opportunities in Mexico.
To realise/fulfil their own skills is part of the job of being here in Casa Alianza; of the social workers and counsellors. The counsellor is a very important figure, he or she carries out the children’s “Life Plan” according to each child and their needs. Well. My name is Mariana Polet Morales Vega. I’m in the area of social work in the Casa Alianza. My job here is to welcome the children. An interview is done. We work with a concept that is an “integral model concept”, an interdisciplinary concept in which we can then build a “life plan” for each young person. This plan is carried out along with the counsellor that is being assigned to each child from the first day.
We match each young person with a counsellor according to each profile so they can build trust and rapport. This process is important so the young person can fulfil their needs. As I said, the “life plan” is an interdisciplinary plan created by different services. Like the medical team, for example, the legal team, the family reintegration team, etc. All those teams, together, they create a plan for each young person according to their needs. For example, the counsellors are also in charge of soliciting the different areas that may– the needs that the teenager may have. So then it is very important because throughout the process and their stay at the foundation, this process accompanies the teenager.
So then, everything is focused on the needs. The objective of the life-plan is to exactly cover all the needs that the teenager has, whether that is family reintegration, or an independent life, which are like the two ways that we manage in the foundation. Since they may not count on a support network, they are supported here so that they can be independent and they can be reinserted into society in some way, well, autonomous. That they could be capable of managing the day that they leave here. The counsellor, the case reviews are performed monthly. This is important. Just because here we can realise how the teenager is advancing and what other needs we have to cover.
Usually the counsellor does the work of the life plan through the social worker, he requests the case reviews. At the same time, the social worker calls a meeting with all the multidisciplinary areas and with the life-plan counsellor. Here the life-plan counsellor is the one who lays out the case, the one who shows the advances and also asks what his teenager needs.

In this video we hear from two members of the team working for Fundación Casa Alianza in Mexico. Margarita Cerón is a Sociologist and Mariana Paulette Morales Vega is a Social Worker. They are members of a large multi-disciplinary team working to support and care for unaccompanied children. The team includes social workers, psychologists, lawyers, youth workers, and alternative care workers.

Fundación Casa Alianza offers family-like care in a small group home. Some children are in transit, some wish to remain, and others wish to return home. We will hear how the staff do their utmost to provide a caring environment for the children. Most importantly, it is one of the alternative care projects in Mexico where there is an ‘open-door’ policy. This means the children are able to move freely and interact in the community just like other children, like, for example, going to school and attending social events.

The staff work closely with one another to make sure there is a comprehensive approach to assessments, developing care plans – a ‘Life Plan’ – and responding to the individual needs, wishes and circumstances of each child. We will see more films about this project later in the course.

Care and protection plans

Once all the information in an assessment has been gathered it should be used to help decide on any actions that will take into full consideration the best interests of a child. This includes the most suitable alternative care placement, the protection and other support services to be provided. The decisions should then be written down in a Care and Protection Plan. Some agencies – such as UNHCR – call the assessment and decision making process the Best Interest Assessment (BIA) and the Best Interest Determination (BID) process. We have provided some other examples for you to look at in the ‘See Also’ section at the bottom of the page.

Earlier this week, we recommended that each child is provided with a case worker. Ideally the same person will be responsible for any assessment, the development and oversight of the Care and Protection Plan – someone who has the opportunity to get to know the child and build a strong and trusting relationship with them.

The Care and Protection Plan should specify:

  • A named person (the child’s case worker) who has overall responsibility for making sure the plan is implemented
  • A case number – to help keep personal information or data about a child private and confidential
  • Details of where the child will be provided alternative care and who will provide it
  • The specific protection needs of the child, how these will be addressed, by whom, and when
  • Other services to be provided to the child such as health, education, psychosocial support, who will provide these services, where, and by when – making sure the child’s most urgent needs are met quickly
  • Any other specific actions that are to be taken, by when, and who is responsible
  • The frequency of visits to monitor how the child is and whether they are receiving the services and protection outlined in their Plan

We recognise this is a lot of information to bring together and coordinate, and that it might take a while to make sure the Plan is fully developed and implemented.

Once the assessment has been completed, if someone different takes responsibility as the case worker, they must receive a careful handover and be given all the information that has been gathered.

Please remember, it is important that the development of the Plan and the decisions that are made should fully involve the participation of the child concerned, which we will discuss in more detail later this week. Also, the tasks, decision making, and work to develop the Plan are made easier if supported by, and shared with, colleagues from different sectors.

Referrals and working in cooperation with other services

We realise that a child’s case worker or indeed any one organisation will not be able to provide all the services a child may need. That is why we have said case management involves close coordination between different sectors, and the ability of a case worker to refer a child to different services.

The flow diagram representing the Case Management process that we looked at earlier this week indicated that referrals occur while a child’s Care and Protection Plan is being developed and implemented. In practice, referrals to other services may start as soon as some of the child’s needs are identified – especially if they are urgent.

The ‘See Also’ section below has links to other reading material that may be of interest to you.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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