Sketching future steps for regional impact

ChildPact’s Steering Committee had a regional meeting in Sofia, on the 27th of April, in the framework of the 7th Regional Meeting of Child Rights Coalitions in Europe.

The meeting represented an important opportunity for ChildPact members to update each other on the recent child protection developments in their countries, to share project experiences and learnt advocacy lessons as well as to take decisions with regard to ChildPact’s future regional projects and enterprises.

Amongst the important administrative decisions made to strengthen ChildPact’s presence in the region, several steps prior for the official registration of the regional coalition have been made. Thus, the final statue has been revised and agreed upon by all the Steering Committee members, while a new branding and visibility strategy has been adopted.

Furthermore, the current state of the development of the Child Protection Index has been discussed. In short, at a national level, the Child Protection Index will provide a common framework to anchor policy debates, verify needs and gaps, unify various sectors and actors under shared principles and increased collaboration, and offer solutions to increase qualitative and quantitative coverage. In addition, adopting this Index at national levels will offer a vital advocacy tool to monitor the performance of state structures and non-state, civil society actors with regard to overall child well-being. Creating an evidence-based platform for policy dialogue will support advocacy direct to child poverty, protection and accessibility to basic services.

Briefly, ChildPact’s Child Protection Index will have the following objectives: (1) provide an evidence-based approach to policy debates; (2) identify needs and gaps in child protection systems; (3) create cross-national comparisons for advocacy and funding purposes; (4) push for new efforts on data population; (5) unify various sectors and actors (government, civil society and academia) under shared principles and increase collaboration.

Amongst ChildPact’s future regional initiatives discussed, the need to advocate for the construction of a Regional Trust Fund for Children that would support the activities of national child-focused networks in the region has been widely discussed. In our region – social contexts in which child protection networks are weak and where professionals fail to build trusting relations – the diffusion of innovation is much slower. Promising practices are not spread and systems of child welfare fail to be properly improved.

In a recent paper, ChildPact argues why the work of child protection networks is crucial for reforms in our region and why child protection systems could greatly benefit from increased resources dedicated to strengthening civil society and multi-sector networks. Such resources should come from all those who want to ensure the right care and protection of vulnerable children. A trust fund for child protection networks would be the first of its kind and could be established with an aim to achieve the following capacity building and impact objectives: (1) End the structural weakness of child protection networks in the New Eastern Europe / Black Sea Region; (2) End their dependence on unpredictable funding and resource flows; (3) End the knowledge-practice gap in child protection. ChildPact strongly believes and warns that without these three ‘ends’ the bigger ‘end’ – that of ending violence against children – will never be possible. Only very strong, easily visible, compellingly vocal and outstandingly skilled child protection networks will be able to create the necessary vibe and hype needed for truly ending violence against children.