The Norwegian Presidency of the CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk focuses on good practices and building trust between the systems in the region. It features a project which is mapping child protection systems and promising practices. This work will contribute knowledge about child protection systems in the region and will form the basis for further cooperation and dialogue. With funding from the CBSS Project Support Facility, the first report of this work will be launched during this presidency year.
The presidency is also focusing on the consequences Covid-19 has had and still has on vulnerable children and families within the region. The Expert Group is sharing what they have learnt during the crisis, including experiences and knowledge that hopefully will strengthen our child protection and child welfare systems in normal times as well as in similar times of crisis in the future.
Additionally, the Norwegian Presidency of the CBSS is focusing on will focus on three overall aims: accelerating cooperation on the green transition, fostering regional identity and cooperation, and supporting the current mandates of the CBSS on civil protection, children at risk and trafficking in human beings.
Expert group meetings
At the 4 November 2021 meeting, the Expert Group followed up on earlier discussions about Covid-19 and its impact for children at risk, and discussed setting up a child and youth advisory board.
Covid-19’s impact on children at risk
The expert group acknowledges that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on many children in our region, especially on children in already vulnerable situations.
One of the many challenges presented by COVID-19 for children, is that risks to children may go undetected, as everyday activities closed down. The expert group emphasises the need to systemize efforts to support vulnerable children, through strong collaboration and partnerships between Government and local authorities, NGOs and private foundations and service providers. Social services are a critical function of societies during times of crisis. The expert group further highlights effective measures to ensure children’s participation and involvement. The expert group took note of the need to consider studying the long-term effects on children and youth of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Member states quickly developed innovative measures to counteract the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, including by integrating child participation into the design and implementation of measures. Noteworthy practices include for example online information campaigns, access to helplines and FAQ for children and caregivers, national coordination mechanisms, mobile child protection teams, and online reporting mechanisms.
Child and youth working group
The meeting further discussed a concept to set up a Children at Risk Child and Youth Working Group. The proposal is a response to the expert group priority on child participation in the 5-year strategy to “explore concrete methodologies for ethical and meaningful child participation in the context our work, promoting the inclusion of children from a diversity of backgrounds and situations.” The proposal also draws on the Baltic Youth Vision Statement Beyond 2030 Children at Risk, which promotes “Meaningful youth participation demands a structured entry point for young people to take part in the decision-making”. The Children at Risk Expert group supports the creation of a Children at Risk Child and Youth Group and have tasked the Secretariat to proceed with the next steps.
Next meeting will focus on child protection mapping
The next meeting of the expert group is planned for early June 2022, to be held in conjunction with a conference launching a report from the CBSS Project Support Facility funded project which is mapping national child protection systems, including a regional registry of good practice.