The “Child at the Center” project was launched on January 1, 2015, and its completion is scheduled for April 30, 2016.
The project helps to promote stability in families with children and eliminate relationship problems within the family.
To design this project, we have used our experience in working with children and their families in divorce cases and in cases of crimes committed against children.
The project centers around protecting the interests and rights of the child. In situations brought on by the parents’ divorce or breakup, we see the child as an individual and we try to involve every key participant, including the child, in the decision-making process.
The project aims to:
- Include the child in the decision-making process. We assume the child has the right to participate and be informed, to the extent that is appropriate for their age, about the situation and what it means for their future. We also respect the child’s right to express their opinion and take part in solving the problem. We encourage children to feel free to express what they need and what they want, to be able to actively seek out help or set the boundaries on what is and isn’t acceptable to them. Our goal is to take away from them the feeling of responsibility for whatever the outcome may be (it’s not the child’s fault if their parents are getting divorced, if they fight or become violent, if they’re abusive towards the child).
- Standardize the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental subjects in the process of rehabilitation of the family or in divorce situations. That means above all else focusing on the solutions proposed by the family members, letting them come up with their own suggestions and choose their roles and responsibilities in the family. The practical application of these decisions will then be monitored by the social services who will determine what is and what isn’t working, as well as which parts of the experience could possibly serve in solving other issues the family might struggle with.
The main objective of this project is to come up with a set of rules for interdisciplinary work with the child and their family, for the planning of case conferences and preparing the child for a case conference, minimizing negative impacts of parental conflicts on the child, preserving the parents’ dignity in the eyes of the child, and for reducing mental and social stress affecting both the parents and the child during the rehabilitation of the family or during divorce proceedings.
The project is being implemented in partnership with the Oslo Krisesenter, a crisis center for children and families who find themselves in difficult situations, offering social and legal services, therapy and help with social activation. The center’s employees often have to deal with problems of divorce or domestic violence in clients’ families. They work with the child as well as the parent or parents through both individual and group counselling designed to find the best solution for the family and the child. The social workers often encounter situations where the children take on important responsibilities in the household, but they are being excluded from decision making on important matters (e.g. where the family should live, how often do they want to see their other parent), they don’t get enough of an opportunity to express their opinion or they simply accept their parents’ decision while suppressing their own wishes. That is why the center works in coordination with child protective services and strives to not only encourage the child in group counselling sessions to express their opinion, but also to make sure their opinion is actually heard.
We’re hoping our partnership with the Oslo Krisesenter will allow us to mutually share our respective time-tested practices and enhance our successful collaboration which started in 2013.
Our project also has a Czech partner, the Department of Social Affairs of the South Moravian Region. The collaboration mostly includes multidisciplinary events – inviting the representatives of the region’s municipalities (based on former districts), providing facilities for the meetings to take place in, participation of the city’s representatives whenever possible, authorisation of the resulting documents and their use in meetings outside of South Moravian Region (project sustainability).
The project is being funded by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the 04 Children And Youth At Risk program. http://www.mpsv.cz/cs/17576