Project’s Description

Child abuse and neglect (CAN) case-based data across the EU are derived from a variety of intersectoral sources and collected via different methodologies; therefore, follow up of victims at local & national level is not sufficiently coordinated among the involved services. At international level, given that existing monitoring systems vary considerably, comparisons are not feasible. Additional barriers for effective CAN monitoring are the lack of common operational definitions and registering practices. This project aims at creating the scientific basis, necessary tools and synergies for establishing national CAN monitoring systems using a minimum data set (MDS). Such systems would provide comprehensive, reliable & comparable case-based information at national level for children who have used child protection services (social, health, educational, judicial & public order, depending on countries' specifics). A Policy & Procedures Manual will be created addressing policy makers and other related stakeholders; it will include ready-to-use tools as well as argumentation for lobbying towards a uniform systematic registry and monitoring of abused children at local & national levels also facilitating international comparisons. Such a registration mechanism at national level could be part of the routine administrative process in all child protection services and the MDS could be uploaded in a single database operating via a restricted-access on-line network. National child protection services that would initially join in these MDS collection/sharing of information would also be expanded to include more services, with an ultimate aim being to capture the entire EU area. Although insofar efforts for a European unification of CAN related information resources have focused mainly on juridical cases or cases involving authorities’ involvement, this project will target at providing a common ground also for CAN cases that do not involve legal or public order authorities and will be handled and managed by services in the health, welfare & educational sectors as evidence suggests that the vast majority of CAN cases fall into this particular category. To this end, a Toolkit will be developed consisting of the necessary protocols, tools, a short-training module & a Guide for potential operators of a CAN-MDS system, namely professionals who will be in charge of collecting & registering data (annexed in the Policy Manual). Partners will serve as national "focal points" who will undertake to adapt the Toolkit for their countries, to create and train their national "core" groups of operators as well as to adapt and promote the Policy Manual for the establishment of national CAN-MDS systems. The data that will comprise the CAN-MDS will derive from specific variables on the basis of 4 axes: child, incident, family and services provided and could be used in multiple ways: for development of annual country profiles indicating current needs for services in the field, exploration of the relationship between specific factors and types of child maltreatment and as a point of reference indicating the priorities arising at local, national & international levels (benchmarking). Moreover, it could support development of CAN National Surveillance Mechanisms (where such mechanisms are not available) or improvement of the available mechanisms. Lastly, CAN-MDS data could be used as a baseline for services and interventions' effectiveness evaluation, identification of good practices and planning future policies & legislation. Operators of the CAN-MDS could be social/health/other professionals working in the field of child protection or with child victims. Apart from the operators themselves and the policy makers responsible for developing strategies for CAN prevention, the results will benefit the general population of minors, specifically maltreated children and children at risk as well.