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An example of a kinship care programme in a refugee camp

This video shows a kinship care programme in the Hitsats camp in Ethiopia

In course step 2.9 we saw how relatives of unaccompanied and separated children arriving in Ethiopia are identified during the UNHCR registration process. In this video we will meet Ferouz, a young Eritrean refugee who was reunified with her uncle. The family are supported through a kinship care programme managed by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The family live in Hitsats camp in the district of Shire, Northern Ethiopia. The social worker has a responsibility to regularly review the wellbeing and welfare of Ferouz. During the visit, the social worker discovers Ferouz has not yet started school. This is because of health and other concerns related to Ferouz’s previous experiences. The social worker is able to offer reassurance and provide ways to support Ferouz .

Earlier in the course we considered some of the factors that make an alternative care placement informal or formal. The programme you will see in Hitsats camp is administered by the non-governmental agency Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), with agreement from the Government of Ethiopia. As per the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, this makes this form of kinship care a formal care setting as it was arranged by an authorised body.

There are many children who are safe and happy in kinship placements. However, it is necessary to pay attention to possible risks. We should not automatically assume that, because children are with family members, they are not being exploited or abused.

This is why social workers should regularly monitor and review the situation of each child carefully. This is also why there should be careful recruitment and training of social workers – case workers – to take on this significant role of supporting and monitoring the situation of children in alternative care – including those in kinship care.

Social workers in Hitsats camp are assigned approximately twenty five families – a combination of foster carers and kinship carers – to support and monitor. They visit each family on a regular basis – at least three times a week. When a social worker visits a kinship family, they review all aspects of the welfare, protection and social and emotional well-being of the child being cared for. The social worker will discuss any concerns, and help the child and the family access a range of services in the camp being delivered in partnership between the Government of Ethiopia, UN agencies and NGOs.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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