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Voices from Practitioners on Cross-sectoral Coordination during COVID-19

Listen to the reflections of practitioners in the field as they discuss the centrality of engagement and coordination with other sectors for child pro
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Good morning everyone. My name is Monica Martinez Rubio. I work for Save the Children in Lebanon as the child protection technical advisor. Every child protection practitioner knows about the importance of the child protection discipline to collaborate, to rely to mainstream with other disciplines and many other sectors to be able to provide a holistic and comprehensive response to children and needs and cases and because every specific child situation is so unique and distinctive from the others it is important to have that comprehensive response and this obviously involves the coordination the collaboration of many different sectors.
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We collaborate with the health sector with the GBV sector with mental health with protection and basic needs We all know this and this is something that is very inherent in our discipline. Yet in this particular response to COVID-19 it has become even more relevent and more prominent that CP actors needed to collaborate with others mainly, obviously the health sector but also the basic assistance sector the protection, GBV, etc… to again provide a comprehensive response to children and caregivers facing COVID-19 issues.
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So for us Save the Children in Lebanon we have been a key role player in the interagency coordination by co-living together with our dear colleagues from IRC the case management task force which as the name indicates it has to deal with everything that’s related to case management in the country as well as being an active and core member of the child protection working group at the interagency level for us coordinating with other actors from the child protection sector as well as core sectors it has been really important and fundamental to advance a program for COVID-19 for children. The interagency intervention that I want to talk about today is a hotline that was created through the case management task force.
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A child protection hotline for health practitioners and frontline workers. As the name indicates It is a hotline meant for frontline workers. And this could be anyone that works for example, in the health sector in a humanitarian organization as well as medical and hospital centers personnel that identify a child protection concern and they have a hotline that operates 24 hours to refer a specific case.
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Now, what type of cases are we thinking that these health professionals could be looking at would be one very typical scenario would be mom and dad or caregivers get sick and have to be hospitalized or have to be quarentined and they haven’t found a spontaneous solution for the child for a temporary placement of the child with a caregiver with a caretaker with a community member or with a relative so the child is literally at risk of separation and alone. So this is a specific case in which the health workers (frontline workers) can call us and tell protection practitioners and we will help them to find a solution in the best interest of th child.
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Also all other types of abuse can also be referred. We did this because we think that it would be easier for health actors. It is a way of coordinating. This is where the interagency coordination becomes stronger. For us to reach out to them and offer these services so they could refer the cases to us. Of course, we also developed protocols SOPs on how this will work and a dissemination plan and so far it is five agencies that have been operating the hotline at the country level. It is important also to remark that this hotline is a temporary measure to respond to COVID-19 cases.
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It does not in anyway replace the already existing interagency referral pathways that are promoted and validated by the government. Basically a lot of the challenges are very specific to the context and the specific situation but some others are very cross cutting and can be found in different environments. I think the most important thing is that there is clear agenda and priorities for all the different agencies to be focusing on that are specific resources dedicated to it. Both in terms of human resources. But also time and financial resources and to get the buy in and engagement and the commitment of the government because obviously, they are the driving force and this is how it’s going to work.
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We’re going be strengthening the system instead of just creating a parallel system. And lastly, one of the challenges and one of the strengths at the same time is for child protection actors to be united on how we pass our voice to other sectors to other forums. Sadly its something that tends to be forgotten sometimes. We have that enormous and continuous mission to continue to advocate our voice which ultimately are children’s voices for their well being and protection.

Listen to the reflections of Monica Martinez, Save the Children, Child Protection Technical Advisor in Lebanon as she discusses the centrality of engagement and coordination with other sectors for child protection and well-being during COVID-19.

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