Child-Protection

OUR AREA OF CONCERN

3708 children benefitted through the Strengthening Child Protection and Response Services for Most Deprived Children Project in 2019. The project supported the Royal Government of Bhutan, National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), and Civil Society Organizations to institutionalize, strengthen, and implement an effective child protection and response system through development of policies, strategies and child protection support and response services.

HOW ARE WE HELPING?

  1. Save the Children developed, reviewed and improved long term strategic and sustainable plans for CSO partners – Ability Bhutan Society (ABS), Draktsho and Nazhoen Lamtoen.
  2. A Child Safeguarding and Protection policy was developed to ensure child safeguarding standards are clear, comprehensive and enforceable.
  3. A response team in the Child Helpline System was also formed to provide immediate support and a standard operating procedure was developed to help the operation of the team.
  4. A life skills training for children was conducted by Nazhoen Lamtoen at Youth Development and Rehabilitation Centre (YDRC). YDRC also hosted the Parent Bonding Program.
  5. The ‘Steps to Protect’ common approach was introduced as a key approach in Bhutan’s child protection and response system. It enables service providers to endorse a systematic step-by-step process to working with children and their families to address all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect experienced by children.
  6. In July 2019, 23 participants from National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), Ability Bhutan Society (ABS), Draktsho, Nazhoen Lamtoen, Royal Bhutan Police, Ministry of Labor and Human Resources, Youth Development Fund, RENEW and Dratshang Lhentshog attended the ‘Steps to Protect’ silver course, under the supervision of Ms. Jane Calder, Technical Advisor from Save the Children United Kingdom (SCUK).
  7. Quality Assessment Framework of the existing Case Management System was successfully completed. The Framework aims to understand the operational protection and response system related to case management in Bhutanese context, and use the outcome of QAF exercise to improve the existing child protection case management practice.

Nazhoen Lamtoen

  1. Nazhoen Lamtoen is the only CSO in Bhutan providing care, protection and reintegration of children in difficult circumstances and children who come into conflict. Save the Children Bhutan supported Nazhoen Lamtoen in its various initiatives.
  2. In 2019, Nazhoen Lamtoen spearheaded the pilot Case Management of children in difficult circumstances in five districts – Thimphu, Paro, Mongar, Zhemgang and Chukha. They recruited 3 Case Management Officers and stationed them in Chukha, Mongar and Zhemgang districts.
  3. In March 2019, a total of 8 Nazhoen Lamtoen staff (4 F, 4 M) received training on Child Protection and Introduction to Case Management approach from Save the Children.
  4. Nazhoen Lamtoen staff were also engaged in a five-day training in May 2019 in Child Protection and Case Management facilitated by Nazhoen Lamtoen Executive Director, Save the Children Child Protection Officer and National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) Legal Officer. The training mainly oriented new Case Managers on how to manage cases, child safeguarding, on Child Care and Protection Act and other child related Acts of Bhutan.

Children’s Halfway Home

  1. Bhutan Country Office supported the establishment and operation of the Children’s Halfway Home that has, till date, provided the services to 35 children. Of which, 24 children have been reunified with their families through the case management approach.
  2. Throughout the process, the child and their family, and caregivers were consulted. A feedback mechanism system was established for children where they can express their opinions and write feedbacks for the betterment of shelter services.
  3. To keep children engaged in learning, the shelter home organizes various classes such as Art Class by VAST Bhutan, sports, yoga, aerobics, kitchen therapy (baking and cooking), garden therapy, dance classes by Gokab, reading classes by Read Bhutan and creative craft art (knitting and paper crafts). Such activities enable children to build their own interests/hobbies facilitated by relevant organizations and service providers.

Child Safeguarding and Protection Policy

  1. Children and youth can be potential subjects of abuse, exploitation, violence and neglect in families, communities, institutions, organizations, private and public settings.
  2. In 2019, Save the Children supported National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) in developing Child Safeguarding and Protection Policy with the objective to promote and protect child rights, and to create a public understanding that the best interests of the child be considered dominantly in all actions affecting children.
  3. Child safeguarding and protection policy also aimed to provide directives and guidance to the organizations so that they work with children in a sensitive manner.

Child Helpline System

  1. The National Child Helpline 1098 was launched in 2018 and to make it appropriately operational in 2019. 2 counsellors were recruited to ensure that appropriate human resource was available for the Helpline 24/7.
  2. The NCWC hired 3 Child Protection Officers, who were trained to operate and provide guidance through the Child Helpline System.
  3. In the past one year, the National Child Helpline 1098 recorded a total of 2,442 calls (1498 boys, 944 girls) seeking support and services such as for counselling, information, seeking information for services, and to report on abuse and exploitation.
  4. The National Child Helpline services provided go beyond the telephonic counselling, extending to emergency assistance and provision of long-term care and protection including referral for rehabilitation, repatriation and reintegration programs.

Strengthening Child Justice System in Bhutan

34 children and 90 adults benefitted through the Phase II of Strengthening Child Justice System project. The project was implemented in partnership with the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), the Royal Bhutan Police and local CSO Nazhoen Lamtoen.

The project achieved the following in 2019;

  • Child friendly procedures were harmonized, and all key service providers were made aware of their roles and responsibilities.
  • Judge and the lawyer from the Child & Family Bench were trained on child justice system.
  • Three Child Protection Officers were appointed and trained.
  • The children/ youth released from the Youth Development and Rehabilitation Centre (YDRC) received counselling and support services from Nazhoen Lamtoen for reintegration with their families and society.
  • Two professional training instructors were posted at the Youth Development and Rehabilitation Centre, the only correctional facility.
  • Two Police Officers were trained in Child Psychology, Counselling and Rehabilitation. They conducted roll-out training for 25 (7 F, 18 M) non-commissioned Officers from Pre-trial centre and Youth Development and Rehabilitation centre.

Supporting Education and Vocational Training for Children with Disabilities

OUR AREA OF CONCERN:

Studies show that 21 percent of 2-9 years old children in Bhutan are living with one form of disability. These children are among the most deprived children in Bhutan. They lack appropriate support and basic services on health and education. Draktsho is the only institute (with two branches established – Thimphu, the capital city and Trashigang in the East) providing support to children with mild to moderate physical and cognitive disabilities.

HOW ARE WE HELPING?

Save the Children Bhutan has been assisting Draktsho to enhance the living standard of children and youth with various types of disabilities through empowerment by training, education and eventual integration with the mainstream population. Notable support rendered to Draktsho are:

  1. Save the Children with support from Save the Children US through donations from Mr. William Mark Haber and Ms. Heike Margarethe Sommers supported the construction of classroom and multi-purpose training hall at Draktsho-East Vocational Training Institute. The infrastructure directly benefitted 67 children with disabilities.
  2. The new infrastructures inaugurated in November 2019 are used to learn basic literacy and mathematics and vocational skills mainly tailoring, embroidery, painting, doll-making etc.
  3. The Children were also provided with locally written reading materials and storybooks.

Reaching Children whose mothers are at Open Air Prison

OUR AREA OF CONCERN

Children accompanying their mothers who are serving prison terms constitute the most deprived children in Bhutan as no support services or interventions are provided. They remain deprived of their right to appropriate care, protection, and early simulation and development support.

HOW ARE WE HELPING?

  1. Save the Children initiated and supported the Royal Bhutan Police establish a ‘safe space’ for children who are accompanying their mothers serving prison terms at the Open-Air Prison for women at Dawakha, in Paro district.
  2. This intervention immediately benefitted 10 very young (breastfeeding) children and 38 mothers.

This is the first and only such space established in the country. Save the Children is the only agency partnering with the police in this program showcasing SC’s credibility and strong partnership in the country.