The Changemakers for Children platform is an initiative by Family for Every Child. As an alliance of local civil society organisations led by practitioners around the world, Family for Every Child (Family) captures existing knowledge about why children risk losing the care of their families, how to work successfully with families to keep them together and how to bring families back together, as well as how to provide alternative family care when necessary, and immediate protection to children outside of adult care. To do this, we share knowledge of what works and explore gaps in effective care, as well as research, understand and pilot new approaches to create new knowledge and generate evidence to influence change.
Family for Every Child is currently made up of 40 local civil society organisations (CSOs) in 36 countries. We believe that by uniting our skills and knowledge, we achieve greater change for children and families worldwide. All our members are deeply-rooted where they work, so their models for change grow directly out of the needs of their unique communities.
Together, we deliver collaborative projects that deliver impact and change at a larger scale than our members could do separately. These include global campaigns and advocacy, international research and programme pilots to achieve change in multiple countries.
Learn more about our work and members at familyforeverychild.org
By uniting our skills and knowledge, we achieve greater change for children and families worldwide. Specifically, we aim to achieve the following five goals:
1. Safe and caring families
The problem: Too many children live without their parents or without a family.
These children often end up in residential care, working, in detention or on the streets. They are less likely to attend or do well in school, and to have access to health and other basic services. As adults, they are more also likely to be unemployed, live in poverty and be dependent on the state.
Our Goal: Enabling children to grow up in permanent, safe and caring families.
Children should spend most of their childhoods in safe, caring and protective families. For this to happen we need to drive more efforts toward the prevention of family separation and the reintegration of children. We also believe that vulnerable families need support to be able to provide their children with adequate care.
2. Quality alternative care
The problem: Not all children can be cared for by their parents. Some children leave their homes because of abuse, exploitation or parental death, while others hope to find a better life in the city to study or work. Unfortunately, many of these children end up in conditions worse than those they left behind. Some wind up in large-scale institutional care, which can be neglectful, abusive and damaging. Others live in forms of alternative care that are often short-term and poorly regulated.
Our Goal: Ensuring a range of high-quality, appropriate alternative care choices for children. Children deserve the best care and stability possible to be happy and feel cared for. If their families can’t care for them, the alternative options have to be of high quality. Children’s own needs and preferences have to be taken into consideration. As large-scale institutional care doesn’t offer children quality care, we must work to end it. Alternative care should be temporary where possible and must be properly regulated with the care and protection of children as the highest priority.
3. Supporting children living independently
The problem: Millions of children live outside of any adult care. This can have devastating consequences for their well-being. Children living on the streets, in child-only households without any adult supervision or with exploitative or abusive adults are extremely vulnerable to violence, exploitation, recruitment by armed forces and are exposed to health risks. They are also commonly unable to attend school, they feel lonely and isolated and worry about their future, but without any support to deal with these feelings.
Our Goal: Taking steps to prevent children from having to live outside of any adult care, without the care of families or other carers, and in the interim, protecting these boys and girls. Unfortunately, we can’t immediately stop all children from having to live outside of adult care. We have to offer them more support and protection. At the same time the development of better alternative care choices for children has to be prioritised. It is also important that children outside of adult care are immediately protected. To prevent children from being separated from their families in the first place, families need to be strengthened and better supported.
5. Better decision making
The problem: Children are rarely involved in decisions that concern their care and protection. Their best interests are often ignored. Because of this, children are placed in large-scale institutions or other forms of inadequate care. Within families and in the formal care system, children are often excluded from decision making about their care which can make them feel frustrated and sometimes lead them to leave their homes.
Our Goal: Promoting better and more participatory decision making about children’s care. It is important to listen to and respond to children, and to recognise their role in decisions about their own lives, including decisions about whether or not they should be with their families. Children’s right to participate in decisions which affect them is recognised by international guidance. All decisions about children’s care need to be made on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that their individual voices are respected, and their views have to always be considered.
5. Stronger child protection systems
The problem: Inadequate resources and innovation. Child protection plays a key role in preventing and dealing with abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence that children face. However, those working on child protection and care do so in a disjointed manner without looking at the bigger picture. Issues such as child labour or street children have been addressed as single issues and the links between these problems are overlooked.
Our Goal: Building strong child protection systems which strengthen families and promote quality care for children. Without stronger child protection systems we won’t achieve our goals. For this to happen, there needs to be a strong political will to commit enough resources to children’s care and protection and to drive efforts to improve the quality of child protection systems. Proper policies and guidance is needed; a range of different services to support children in vulnerable families and children outside of parental care must be available and the child welfare workforce must be strong and supported.