Themes – child-friendly places

Themes - child-friendly places

Child-friendly places

What are child-friendly places and offers?

Child-friendly places and offers are part of the protection concept for children in need and crisis situations. They offer a safe, protected place in which a stimulating and supportive environment is created, which gives children a certain degree of normalcy and continuity through structured play, leisure and learning activities. The aim is to stabilize children who have experienced conflicts or disasters and have had to flee, to strengthen their psychosocial well-being and to promote their resilience. Child-friendly places and offers are managed in a participatory manner and used to mobilize the community to guarantee the children’s right to protection, to play and to learn.

Child-friendly places and offers must be an integral part of the facility

Child-friendly places and offers are aimed at all children in refugee accommodation (all age groups – usually up to the age of 18, with or without impairment, etc.). They offer them a safe and secure retreat where they can experience stability and support, and a stimulating and encouraging environment in which they can play and learn. Child-friendly places and offers should strengthen psychosocial well-being and help to process what has been experienced better and to promote inner resilience. Child-friendly locations are developed based on a participatory needs analysis aimed at the accommodation management and senior staff at the accommodation, as well as at the residents (parents, children and adolescents). The flat-sharing community is also closely involved in the implementation of the offers. Offers are accessible without barriers and are designed to be age, culture and gender sensitive.

The concept of child-friendly places implies integrated spatial planning and design, including structured play and learning opportunities, relaxation, education and psychosocial support for children. Fixed, appropriate childcare keys, which are based on the daycare childcare key, and personnel qualified for child protection, psychological first aid, child development and social pedagogy (including volunteers who support activities together with full-time employees and parents) are part of the protection provided by child-friendly Places is guaranteed.

There should be at least one primary person responsible for the child-friendly places within the facility. Among other things, this employee looks after other full-time employees, as well as parents and volunteers working in the area. This person also takes care of the extraction and maintenance of the equipment and materials. In order to ensure that the child-friendly rooms and offers are implemented as planned and as required and contribute to reducing risks, the implementation process and data relevant to protection must be recorded regularly as part of this. This includes, for example, data on registration, attendance, activities carried out, complaints and incidents, referrals and development of the children. These data have to be imported into the quality assurance and monitoring system of the facility, evaluated and discussed in regular meetings (e.g. service meetings, employee meetings, supervision meetings, meetings of participation structures) and concrete action needs have to be derived.

Child-friendly places do not replace the regular offers for children, adolescents and families, but offer important bridging offers and interim solutions as long as children, adolescents and their parents cannot (yet) take advantage of relevant regular offers (especially daycare centers, schools) due to administrative / legal issues.

Orientation for children

In general, offers are set up for four age groups and are accordingly provided at different times of use: infants / toddlers, children of preschool age (under six years old), children aged 6 to 12 years and adolescents (13 to 18 years). In certain activities, however, the mixing of the age groups can be helpful if older children support the care and support of the younger ones ("buddy system"). External offers from the community, local authority and civil society should be used to supplement internal services. They also promote integration into the new environment and society. Accommodation that is not able to provide a child-friendly space due to structural restrictions must support children and their parents in taking advantage of these external offers (including playgrounds, mobile play and learning opportunities, outdoor activities, etc.).

Child-friendly places are also used for the initial identification of particularly vulnerable children and children with special needs, through the early detection of suspicious symptoms – mental, emotional or physical characteristics and behaviors that indicate, for example, trauma, an illness or a disability. These then have to be referred to the responsible, specialized actors.

Alignment for parents

Child-friendly places offer an important entry point for working with parents, exchanging information and promoting integration. On the one hand, the active participation of parents in child-friendly places should strengthen the bond between parents and child, and enable parents in their role as parents, on the other hand, the care of children should support and relieve parents. Parent counseling must promote positive, non-violent treatment of their children within the framework of child-friendly offers. Furthermore, parent groups and parent meetings should be used for awareness raising, information exchange and education: to educate you about your rights and the rights of your children, to present internal and external offers, to publicize services and regulatory structures, and to provide information about important offices and authorities, supporting institutions and To inform organizations. (Internal) hurdles that can prevent parents from taking up regular offers for their children can be eliminated. Cooperation with parents should also promote self-confidence and offer psychosocial support, which in turn has a positive effect on the child’s well-being.

Guidelines for child-friendly places and offers

Here is a summary of UNICEF’s guidelines for child-friendly locations in crisis situations.
Guidelines for child-friendly places

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Christina Cherry
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