It is difficult to determine the number of children in alternative care around the world, but we know that many children continue to be placed unnecessarily in the care system and in unsuitable, sometimes harmful, settings.
To address this, the United Nations General Assembly issued the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in 2009 based on two fundamental principles – ensuring both the necessity and the suitability of alternative care.
Taking the UN Guidelines as a framework, this free online course will help you gain insight into how the unnecessary placement of a child in alternative care can be prevented; how alternative care can constitute a suitable, positive experience for a child when it is necessary; and how children and young people who are leaving care can best be supported.
The course will begin with an introduction to alternative care and the UN Guidelines. Then, in Weeks 2 and 3, we will look at the necessity principle – how to support and strengthen families, identify high-risk children and use gatekeeping to prevent unnecessary entry into alternative care.
In Weeks 4 and 5, we will explore the suitability principle, including the need for a range of formal care settings from which to select the one best suited to each child, and what a sustainable deinstitutionalisation policy involves. In the final week we will consider how children can successfully leave care.
To bring your learning to life, each week of the course will include an episode of a specially-made film. This follows the experiences of a family with two children living in vulnerable circumstances as they move through an alternative care system.
The course has been developed by CELCIS in the University of Strathclyde in Scotland in partnership with a steering group established by the Geneva Working Group on Children without Parental Care. CELCIS has authored the widely-used guide Moving Forward: Implementing the ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’ and run the successful FutureLearn course Caring for Vulnerable Children.
During the course, you will hear from practitioners, carers, academics, children and young people, as well as having the opportunity to discuss experiences and ideas with thousands of other learners worldwide.
This course is designed for practitioners and policymakers from both state and non-state bodies (such as NGOs, CBOs and private service providers) and anyone working in providing services around children’s care.
This might include social workers, para-social workers, community support workers, lawyers, psychologists, child protection professionals, teachers, medical workers and care workers, including those in family-based and residential settings.
The course will also be accessible for people not working directly in this field and others with an interest or responsibility in the field of child protection and child care.
The course will be conducted in English with some course materials (including text and videos) also accessible in Spanish and French, reflecting the truly global nature of this issue.
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