Special Populations and Emergency Settings

Some children transitioning to families may have come from unique situations in which they were particularly vulnerable and may require special attention and support. These include children who entered residential care after experiencing trauma or exploitation in the form of trafficking, child labor, street living, natural disasters, conflicts, or forced migration. Family tracing and supported reunification or alternative family care are much more effective responses for decreasing the vulnerability of children than placement of children in residential care.

Individualized care plans for these children may include trauma healing, psychological care, assistance integrating into school, specialized training for families, or respite care for caregivers, ultimately leading to family care.

Special resources and efforts are needed to assess and reintegrate children who have been separated from their families during emergencies. Temporary foster care or short-term emergency group homes may offer a small-group atmosphere for children to receive assessment and treatment prior to being transitioned into a more permanent option on the continuum of care.

In situations in which discrimination may be a serious problem, such as children affected by HIV and AIDS, children who have been sexually exploited, or children associated with armed forces or groups, identifying and responding to stigmas within the community should involve people of influence in the community, including faith leaders and school and government officials, in addition to caregivers. 

Special Populations

Reintegration Guidelines for Trafficked and Displaced Children Living in Institutions Outlines eight steps for reintegration of this special population of children, including reporting abusive institutions, legal transfer of children, “rescue” and rehabilitation, family tracing, reintegration, initial support, monitoring, family support, and case closure. (Next Generation Nepal)

Standard Operating Procedures: Family Reintegration Features guiding principles, key terms, key steps, evaluation, and further reading, with a focus on street children. (Retrak)

Technical Brief: Family Reintegration for Children Living on the Streets Demonstrates that successful family reintegration is possible for street children when there is a focus on the individual child, building positive attachments with caregivers, strengthening families’ capabilities, and involving the wider community. (Retrak)

Best Interests Determination for Children on the Move: A Toolkit for Decision Making Provides tools to guide practitioners in ensuring the best interests of unaccompanied migrant children and ensuring that they are supported within child protection systems. Includes Best Interest Assessment Form and Durable Solution Recommendation Matrix with explanation on how to use both. (Save the Children)

Guidance Notes: Urban Contexts Provides practical guidance on how to successfully improve the wellbeing of children in urban contexts. (World Vision International)

Deinstitutionalization of Street Children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Provides information and recommendations for how to adapt existing standard operational procedures for reintegration of street children to best meet the needs of street children living in institutional care. (Retrak)

Family Resilience Project in Uganda Tells the story of a young boy who lived on the street, but was able to return to his family after intervention services were provided for his family. (AVSI and FHI 360)

Emergency Settings

Children in Emergencies Manual Contains sections on key concerns for children in emergencies, assessments (includes tools), crosscutting issues, separated and unaccompanied children, education, and more. (World Vision International)

Misguided Kindness: Making the Right Decisions for Children in Emergencies Demonstrates what action is needed to keep families together during crisis, as well as what can be done to help children separated from their relatives return to a safe and nurturing family environment. (Save the Children UK)

Alternative Care in Emergencies Toolkit Provides tools and guidance designed to facilitate the process of planning and implementing interim care and related services for children separated from or unable to live with their families during an emergency. (Interagency Working Group on Unaccompanied and Separated Children)

Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action Outlines six core principles that guide 26 standards of care to guide child protection in emergency humanitarian action. (Child Protection Working Group)

The Lost Ones: Emergency Care and Family Tracing for Separated Children From Birth to Five Years Contains step-by-step, practical, field-oriented guidance on the specific care and protection needs of babies and young children in an emergency. (Save the Children Alliance)

Interagency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children Outlines the guiding principles that form the basis for appropriate action on behalf of separated children. Designed to assist governments and donors. (International Committee of the Red Cross)

Practical Guide for Developing Child Friendly Spaces in Emergencies Outlines how to assess, plan, implement, and monitor child-friendly spaces in emergency settings. (UNICEF)

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