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Safe Identification and Referral During COVID-19

Through this video learners here from field practitioners what actions they have taken to adapt safe identification and referral during COVID-19
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My name is Jerusha Bode Acting Child Protection Coordinator for North East Nigeria. How have case workers adapted the process of identifying and referring children in vulnerable situations during the pandemic? For the Nigeria country programme case management services were maintained as a lifesaving activity for child protection programming in the country program COVID-19 emergency contingency plan to provide support to the most vulnerable and at risk children during the pandemic. We use the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action COVID-19 case management guidelines to adapt activities for the Nigeria country programme and case workers were trained on remote and safe case management service provision using the guidelines.
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We also reviewed our service mapping/referral pathways so that case workers are able to understand critical services available during the pandemic and better ways to refer cases. Case workers were also trained on the use of personal protective equipment and resources such as phone credit information, communication and education material translated into local languages were provided to case workers to be able to carry out remote case management services, for ease of identification referral as well as starting communication and sharing key messages with community members.
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Case workers responding to the pandemic during the emergency situation were in contact with community members to be able to report child protection cases identified by community members as well as health focal person contact in case they suspected cases of COVID-19. Basically these were the major steps taken and adapted for safe identification and referral of cases during COVID-19 pandemic. Have community members involvement in safe identification and referral during the pandemic increased? How so? Yes! Community members involvement increased in terms of identification and referral.
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Because movement restrictions and government lockdown were imposed in our location of interventions we were able to ensure that community members kept conducting activities like awareness session that were carried out by our existing community based child protection committees and our safety and learning facilitators. Those are our community structures that were already existing in locations where we work and we were able to carry out awareness sessions providing information on COVID-19 to community members as well as on critical services that are available to community members so they are aware of the impact of COVID-19 on children Community members were also provided with information communication and education material translated in local languages and they were able to understand that there are existing either directly or through the community structures such as child protection committees or the safe and learning facilitators or directly to IRC case workers so that they are able to respond to high risk cases identified within the communities.
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Now because it is a government lockdown there is no more access to community members only through remote service provision. Community members were able to understand that it is important to pass information to the existing structures on the ground as well as phone credit to aid communication and referral of cases between the community structure at community level and the case worker. Also information, communication and education material translated into local languages with the support of the child protection cross-sector working group in Nigeria were used to be provided to community structures.
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This IEC material helped community structures to pass the right information and to really try and stop the myths that are going about in communities like COVID-19 is for the rich and not for the poor. These were some of the activities that really saw community members ensuring that they participated in safe identification. Also community structures proactively, proactively monitored child protection concerns within their communities and referred high risk cases to case workers. Case workers in turn ensured that they had daily follow up calls and provided guidance to child protection committees and child protection community a sense of ownership and responsibility to ensure the protection of children within their communities with appropriate channels of reporting incidents.
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As a result of insights from the COVID-19 experience, do you think there’s a greater opportunity now to increase work with community members on case management that should continue after COVID-19? Absolutely! COVID-19 pandemic has shown that community members understood the importance to step in and ensure he protection of their children especially during the pandemic. And it has shown their readiness to work with child protection agencies and take up roles and responsibilities for the sustainability of projects and to ensure there is availability of child protection services within their communities. One key thing that we noted as an area of opportunity is community mobilization.
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Communities were mobilized from the very beginning to understand issues around the COVID-19 pandemic how it impacts children and better ways of identifying and referring high risk cases within the community. We think this is an area we could explore to increase our work with community members. With proper training and capacity building community members will be able to mobilize and come up with local initiative and proactive steps in providing remote case management services with the support of government agencies and child protection partners in a safe and timely manner even after COVID-19 experience. But I absolutely agree that even after the pandemic community members would be able to increase their support to case management.

Please listen to Jerusha Bode from the International Rescue Committee in Nigeria talk about how safe identification and referral has changed since the pandemic.

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