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Alternative Care Examples and Practices from the Field during COVID-19

Listen to the audio of field practitioners in Ecuador discussing country-specific alternative care contexts, then please share your experience.
I’m Sofia Baccichetto I work as a Senior Child Protection Assistant in UNHCR Ecuador for about five years now. I’m going to talk a little bit about case management of unaccompanied and separated children in Ecuador since the Venezuelan situation started here in the South American continent. Mostly, we have seen an interesting increase in the identification of unaccompanied and separated children, mostly adolescents, over 14 years old From about 200 cases in 2018 We have been identifying more than 350 just in 2020. So we have identified the need to start some alternative care measures as a protection response and give support to the government in these in this aspect.
So we have some child protection specialised partners that have been implementing supervised independent living arrangements for these adolescents mostly. We have also been providing technical support to the government to develop the legal framework for these alternative care arrangements in Ecuador. Basically the process worked that any organization or actor in the humanitarian sector could identify the unaccompanied and seperated children, they will make a reference to the authorities for the assessment and themselves would make a reference to the local authorities to give the protection measures itself. And the child protection partners will provide the alternative care measures.
So these specialized independent living arrangement involves psychological support, constant assessment of the case and family tracing efforts, regular home visits multi-purpose CBI that includes housing, food, hygiene products, health also educational and training for professional abilities and supervised integration to working environments in order to start giving some independence to the adolescents that don’t have any other opportunities of family reunification or any other protection measures available. In the COVID-19 emergency We have worked with partners to ensure services remain available in accordance to health guidelines and adjusted to the current context.
We are working to respond to two different possible situations new cases of unaccompanied and separated children identified mostly on borders and cities and children and adolescents at risk of being separated from their caregivers because they have become ill and need to be hospitalized. We are in lack of local authorities that can give an effective response because we are on lockdown right now. The government has told us to be on lockdown. There are some authorities that are working remotely and it’s very difficult for them to answer our demands and everything. So UNHCR and its partners are committed to respond to these cases with family placement when it’s available and supervised independent living arrangements or other emergency measures.
But I just want to wrap up saying that we have adapted our services to do more remote psychological support and case management and follow-up. We still give multiple purpose CBI and we have and we have been able to extend it so that it can respond to the needs of the population and there is no personal and physical contact that is established with new cases unless it is imperative in cases with high risks, such as medical risk or safety risks whatsoever. We have multi-functional teams that do this follow up to the programs and make sure that these are working and that the adaptations that have been done working for the population as well.
These multifunctional teams also include shelter teams protection teams and programs colleagues that have been able to adjust PPAs of our partners to respond to the emergency needs expanding the length of support of the CBI and the different support provided to respond to the food security and hygiene needs, as well as we have also been providing dignity kits the population. Our main concern right now is access to territory and asylum systems because the front lines have been closed by the authorities. But we are working with the national immigration authorities in order to advocate for vulnerable populations to be admitted in the Ecuadorian territory, trying to build a protocol to include these populations and let them access the territory and asylum system.
This will obviously include unaccompanied and separated children.

Listen to the short webinar extract from UNHCR colleague Sofia Baccichetto (Senior Protection Assistant, Child Protection, Ecuador) introducing considerations for unaccompanied and separated children during COVID-19.

Your Task

What did Ecuador do to adapt their services to Covid-19? How does this compare to your situation?

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Protecting Children during COVID-19 and other Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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