By Vitumbiko Ngwira
Every day, the safety and well-being of some children across the country are threatened by abuse and neglect. Intervening effectively in the lives of these children and their families is not the task of any single person or agency or a manager of child care institution; but rather is a shared community worry and task. This article provides basic tips for managers in institutions that take care of children. These institutions include; orphan care centres, schools and churches. The article provides basic tips for managing these institutions with aim of giving quality care to children and preventing any case of child abuse.
Managers of institutions that take care of children should always make sure that proper documentation is done for all children that are admitted to their institutions. Every child should have their own file which is kept confidential. Thorough research should be done on children being admitted to these institutions. Children should never be admitted for support without prior consultation with the concerned stakeholders. For example, for our case in Malawi, it is always good to consult the social welfare office represented in all the districts. Good documentation paves a way for authentic intervention on the individual case. Verbal admissions should be avoided at all times because information may be lost.
Give attention only to issues that you have capacity to handle. If your institution provides temporary shelter to displaced children, never divert from it because you may not be ready to offer good services. For example, never admit children with special needs when your institution does not have the resources to help. Resources entail; space, personnel, and finances. If you are faced with cases beyond your capacity, kindly refer them to institutions that are better placed, otherwise you will be causing more harm to children.
Creating awareness to children about child protection
You cannot protect children from abuse without creating awareness about child abuse to both staff members and children. It is advisable that all institutions that are taking care of children spend some time in creating awareness on child abuse to both children and staff members. Children should have thorough knowledge about abuse and be able to know where to refer them. It is not obvious that everyone knows child abuse. Managers should always plan and set aside time to share knowledge on child abuse.
Looking for national and global updates
You cannot work in isolation on issues of child protection. Register your institution with relevant bodies so that you are kept updated on what is taking place. The safety of the children that you are taking care of depends on the safety of your institution. So, make sure that you abide by the rules of country in child protection. As managers, encourage your team to join Technical Working Groups (TWGs) so as to learn about what is in the field of child protection. In conclusion, working with children is very delicate, hence the need for exercising extra caution. The above few points are just some of the ways in which institutions in child protection can better render services to children without abuse.