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Quality Mechanisms: to what extent children are the authors of the change?


Innovative approaches and political commitment are needed to improve quality mechanisms in child protection concluded the participants of the third annual ChildHub regional conference. On the 5th and 6th of December, more than 50 leading child protection professionals from 9 countries met in Tirana to discuss existing quality mechanisms in child protection and explore promising practices.

"We are here child protection professionals from NGOs, academics and decision-makers from Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine, making this conference an important opportunity to learn from each other’s country experience and establish connections for further exchanges," mentioned Jezerca Tigani, Terre des hommes Country Representative in Albania and Kosovo, in her welcome speech. “Our countries face a lot of similarities in challenges and the way forward. We are glad that ChildHub is the innovative initiative that facilitates the development of the child protection field in the region,” continued Jezerca.

The foundation of the conference were the national reports on the existing quality assurance mechanisms in child protection. Once researchers shared their findings, representatives of each country identified actions needed to improve the mechanisms in their country. Among the mentioned actions, there were many common ones such as the creation of inter-sectorial independent quality review agencies, the development and putting into effect of data collection and information systems in child protection, and the increase of the number and competences of inspection and monitoring actors.

Although the non-governmental and academic sector can bring a substantial contribution to the achievement of many of the actions, there is also required "political commitment for financing the child protection system based on multi-annual budgets and clear estimations followed by actual allocations, in Strategies and Action plans," as Delia Nita, the researcher from Romania, highlighted.

Participants had a special interest in Bulgaria’s child-centred monitoring system as a response to raising the quality of childcare. The Know-How Centre for the Alternative Care for Children from Bulgaria shared their knowledge and experience in building up this system, but encouraged countries "to go through their own development process, bottom-up, thus ensuring the ownership and contextualization of the system, but also avoiding the potential sanctioning nature of it," commented Galina Markova, the Director of the Centre. Nonetheless, the recommendation is to follow as key indicator the extent to which a child is the author of the change related to his/her situation.

To help participants in their journey toward a child-centred monitoring system, the Know-How Centre held an introductory workshop on child participation and use of the monitoring system for ethical inclusion of children. A take home idea is that child participation should be mainstreamed into the entire society.

The country reports and regional synthesis report on the quality assurance mechanisms in child protection, along with the conference report, will be published by the end of December on ChildHub website and will further serve as advocacy tools at regional level. Decision-makers need to acknowledge the tremendous importance of proper quality mechanisms in child protection.