ICDI has been involved in a consultancy for Save the Children Albania for the past six months. The focus has been on developing a Best Interest of the Child (BIC) checklist, to support Albanian child protection workers with their assessments for children who are at risk of being placed outside their biological families, or for children who are in institutions but for whom efforts are made to place them back with their families.
In the past twenty years Albania’s child protection system has experienced many policy reforms. Numerous national and international organizations have furthermore supported initiatives to increase the availability, quality and child friendliness of services, for example by providing training to staff.
Despite all these ongoing efforts at national and local level, it is generally agreed that the care and support for vulnerable children is still not up to par and remains very fragmented, with certain places (most notably the capital Tirana) offering much better child protection services than others.
Many children at risk now living in Albania – children who face problems like: domestic violence, child abuse, homelessness, child trafficking, institutionalization, parents which are in a nasty divorce, and so forth – deserve that their best interests, one of the key principles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, are taken into account when decisions affecting their lives are made.
Since the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ (BIC) principle is well-known, but very differently understood, Save the Children Albania has commissioned International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) to develop a tool that practitioners in the child protection system can use to make even better Best Interest Determinations (BIDs).
From 28 to 30 May ICDI’s Mathijs Euwema and Bep van Sloten were in Tirana to receive the feedback of around 15 child protection workers, who have piloted the BIC checklist in the past months.
Overall the feedback was positive. People indicated that the BIC checklist is very useful when assessing a child protection case.
Some good suggestions for further improvements were made, which we will use to finalize the Best Interests of the Child checklist, which hopefully will become a widely used tool within the child protection system in Albania.