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Developing Standard Operating Procedures for Child Protection Case Management in Humanitarian Settings
By Crystal Stewart, International Rescue Committee, and Anneloes Koehorst, UNICEF, co-leads of the Case Management Task Force under the Alliance for Child Protection In Humanitarian Action
A united approach to case management promotes equity of service, improved quality and enables better coordination between agencies to provide critical and timely support to vulnerable children and their caregivers. This approach aligns with Standard 1 of the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action: “Relevant and responsible authorities, humanitarian agencies, civil society organizations and representatives of affected populations coordinate their child protection efforts in order to ensure full, efficient and timely response”.
In 2019, the global Case Management Task Force (CMTF) under the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action embarked on a process to create guidelines on how to develop interagency Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for child protection case management in humanitarian settings. While many achievements had been made on a country by country basis, the scope and quality of the SOPs varied widely, thus affecting how they were applied in practice. After receiving a multitude of requests from emergency contexts to share sample case management SOPs and a standard process, the CMTF decided to come together to develop practical guidance and a template SOP to support local, international and governmental child protection agencies to harmonize and standardize case management services for at-risk children.
One recent example of how the global SOP guidance documents have been used to coordinate and improve the child protection case management system is in Venezuela. In 2020, as a result of the widespread economic crisis, the government and various child protection organizations joined forces to strengthen the social service workforce and standardize case management services across the country. Nationwide consultations were held to assess case management practices in every region. This included reviewing case management forms, eligibility criteria, service mapping, referral mechanisms, information sharing, data protection protocols and staff capacity building plans. It also covered important processes to harmonize tools for safe referrals, transfers, family support and reunification, analysis and reporting. The SOPs are currently in their final stage of development and are nearly ready for national approval. This interagency collaboration between government and humanitarian actors demonstrates how protective systems for children can be transformed during a humanitarian crisis.