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Foster care – training and support

In this video you see a series of unaccompanied and separate children in the Hitsats refugee camp in Ethiopia.
My name is Tasfaye Tilahun. My first name is Tasfaye. And I am a child protection officer working for NRC. Today, we are in Hitsats refugee camp. It’s our city. My primary focus of work is associated with CFS, providing training and overseeing campaigns and communication. Therefore, we are here today to learn about parenting skills. We will look at how to care for children. Before we start the training we will be establishing some principles.
The first principle is…
We provide training for the foster carers and kinship carers. In the trainings for the kinship and the foster carers, we provide basic child protection issues, and the child’s rights convention or child rights, and how to communicate with children or communication with children, and how to develop the attitude of children, including psycho-education sessions and psychosocial supports, especially on how to deal with unbehavioured or misbehavioured children.
Female participant: I am looking after my niece and we are a household of 7, including myself. That’s including my niece. That makes a household of 7 then. Are you a single parent or is the father is at home as well? Their father is around but he is not here with me at the moment.
How do you manage to look after a household of 7 members? I am managing that very well, of course, I have discipline them by putting the right rules in place. Do you help them with their schooling? Yes, I do.
Do you make sure they are doing their homework? Yes I do. What time do they have to be at home in the evenings?
They have to be at home by 5:00 pm. Especially the
girls, they have to be at home by 5:00 pm. Do they help you at home? Yes, they help me with household chores. Do you have any boys? Yes, I have boys but they are really young. How old are they? One is 8 and the second one is 5.
It looks like you are not a big family, right?
I think I’m fine. [laughing] That’s good. So, what do we call the type of family you have? We call that a properly managed family. This type of family establishes rules and follows them strictly when raising their children. The parents provide support and advice for the children. The parents step in when the children need help with homework and they make sure the children are attending school. They set out rules and put them into practice. We call these type of family a properly managed family. What did you say your name is?
My name is Kewanit. She hears what is being said to her but she does not seem to fully understand what is being said to her, she fails to listen to the substance of what is being said to her. The conversation and tone bother her and that is why she raises her hands. I think the childs’ needs and demands should be taken into account and must be heard and action should be taken to address this.
Of course, we do deliver trainings for social workers, different trainings, for instance, about case management, how the individual cases for unaccompanied and separated children, how it should be managed, the whole process. And we give them the basic child protection concepts in the refugee operation. We also give them different kinds of training, how to deal with the cases. For instance, last year, in 2018, we delivered an advanced psychosocial intervention training by collaborating with the Scaling Up team from the USA. We also give the training for the social workers about better parenting skills so that they can cascade that training for the foster parents and primary caregivers in the refugee camp.
So, now, I will be asking you questions and you are expected to give answers to them. You don’t have to be silent.
The questions are: the training you did in the past and are doing again now concerns parenting skills and looking after children. Do you think that the training is helpful to you? I think this is very important. We all are looking after young children. We ourselves might be young but we need the skills for now and for the future as well. Through the training we are able to learn the skills we should preserve and the skills we need to get rid of. Based on the principles, we learned how we can confidently raise children in the manner suggested. I think it is helpful to everyone.
I think this is extremely helpful. The training is based on other studies done, so therefore, I think it is really crucial. In my opinion, without acquiring the necessary skills, I will have to rely on what I thought and believed was right, which can often lead to failing to take into account the children’s needs and feelings. Even if I try to understand their feelings it will be down to my own judgment. Now, I am stepping outside what I have learned and this is will broaden my perspective as this is based on broad studies. The training will build our existing skills and we should be offered additional
training to further develop our skills and knowledge. I am new here and I am not sure if any other training
has been offered before or not. I think others, who did not show up today, could benefit from it if this is offered frequently, every two weeks or once a month. How often? It depends on you guys. I am not sure what would be convenient. However, I think to coordinate a plan to have the training run often would be helpful to many.
I think this is extremely helpful. It goes without saying that we all have some skills in raising children acquired naturally or from the way we are raised. It will help me reassess my skills and where I stand. In doing so, I can learn to correct and reject the poor parenting skills I have might have followed and adopt the new healthy skills from the training.
If I was already practicing good parenting skills, then the training
will be reassuring for me. Every care provider should take this course. Everyone who takes the course seriously will benefit from it. The reason why we are requesting this training should be carried out again is that we are aware of other parents who are
providing poor care. If they start this course like we did, just like Fitwi stated earlier, we might be raising
our children with skills we had adopted from our society. That often can mean failing our children. For example, spanking them without reason, which can knock their confidence. I know a mother here who has been having issues with her first born. She denied him access to the food allocated to him from the refugee camp. He went to seek help from his uncle. She told his uncle she did that because, he beat his half brothers, her children
from her second husband. She punished the child because of that and we had to report her to the authorities. The
training could really make them reflect on the way they discipline their children and rethink their ways. This can help them improve their existing skills and beliefs. This should be provided often.

In course step 4.13 we thought about some of the factors we should consider when carefully developing foster care for unaccompanied and separated children and other children on the move, if required. This included the process of selection and training of foster carers against agreed standards and criteria. Training should consider the specific needs of unaccompanied and separated children, like, for example, psychosocial support and an understanding and appreciation of the background they come from, as well as difficulties they may have experienced. Ongoing support should also be provided to caregivers and children in foster placements.

In the last course step we saw examples of foster care provided in two refugee camps in Northern Ethiopia. In this video we will now see one of a series of training sessions offered to foster carers and kinship carers who take care of unaccompanied and separated children in the Hitsats refugee camp in the district of Shire, in Northern Ethiopia.

The training is led by Tasfaye Tilahun who is a Child Protection Officer employed by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Subjects covered in the training include information about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, child protection, psychosocial support, child friendly communication, and positive discipline.

In the video we also hear from Yibeyin Hagos, a Senior Child Protection Officer for Innovative Humanitarian Solution, in Shimelba refugee camp also in the district of Shire, Ethiopia. Yibeyin also stresses the importance of training foster carers.

We would like to thank the UNHCR office in Shire for helping to facilitate the filming in the camps.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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