Putting the child’s story at the centre.

PROMISE aims at promoting child-friendly multi-disciplinary and interagency services supporting child victims of violence, providing them with access to justice, avoiding re-victimization and ensuring high professional standards for recovery.

The project refers to the Barnahus (Children’s House) model, and similar models such as the Children’s Advocacy Centers, embracing cooperation between social services, police, prosecutors, judges, pediatrics and child/adolescent psychiatry in one place. In the Nordics, this multi-disciplinary and interagency service model forms an integral part of the welfare and judicial system. It provides support to child victims and witnesses to violence, giving them access to justice, avoiding re-victimisation and ensuring recovery.

Barnahus puts the child’s story at the centre. In a child-friendly environment, the many sectors involved in a civil or criminal investigation work in coordination under one roof. This helps the child to be able to tell a complete story. When the story is recorded and submitted as evidence to a court proceeding, the child does not need to face the accused in court. As part of the process, victims have direct access to care and support services at the Barnahus.

Since the launch of the PROMISE project in 2015, we have seen a substantial progress in Europe. 13 pilot countries that  joined the PROMISE vision to promote child-friendly, multi-disciplinary and interagency services supporting child victims and witnesses of violence. In just 18 short months, 3 PROMISE pilot countries have launched a Barnahus or comparable model, 5 have preliminary launch dates, and 5 are making quick progress in gathering national and/or local support and resources. A second phase of the PROMISE project will aim to support these countries in meeting their practical national level implementation needs.

The long-term vision for the project is that all children subject to abuse and violence in Europe have the right to be protected and be safe. This includes children having access to child-friendly services based upon quality standards, ongoing development of the services through the sharing of good practices and the mobilizing of national/local agencies, governmental and non-governmental, for collaboration to implement the Barnahus model. For a detailed description of what we aim to achieve and how, please read our Vision Paper.

PROMISE is managed by the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat (Children at Risk Unit). Partners include the Child Circle, Verwey-Jonker Institute, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Trauma Unit and Barnahus in Iceland, Linköping and Stockholm. It also builds on the expertise of prominent specialists in law, sociology, pediatrics, psychology and psychiatry from different European countries.

Barnahus and PROMISE promoted at ISPCAN conference

Pictured: Bragi Guðbrandsson and Chris Newlin. 

Bragi Guðbrandsson had a keynote speech and several PROMISE partner representatives presented the different aspects of the Barnahus model. As a result, many countries showed interest and the city of the Hague, the Netherlands announced the planned launch of their first Barnahus by January 2019.


Keynote: The Road We Travel: Current trends toward convergence of child abuse response – Bragi Guðbrandsson, Director General, Iceland, and Chris Newlin, Executive Director, National Children‘s Advocacy Center, USA


PROMISE – the Webinar

On 29 September 2017 the PROMISE project held a webinar which highlighted advocacy tools for promoting the Barnahus model and briefly introduced the outreach and national level technical support planned for the PROMISE II project.

A recording of the webinar may be viewed here.

To get the most out of watching the recording of the webinar, we recommend you read the PROMISE Advocacy Guidance and consider reading the Enabling Child-sensitive Justice report.

For participants who come from current or future MD/IA services, you  might also read through the summary of the Barnahus Quality Standards and complete the Tracking Tool. Note what standards you are currently focusing on achieving and what your biggest challenges are.

Pictured: Bragi Guðbrandsson, Věra Jourová, Marta Santos Pais, Turid Heiberg. 

The final conference of the PROMISE Project took place 14 June 2017 at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels, Belgium. It focused on advocating for child-friendly multi-disciplinary and interagency services supporting child victims of violence.

High level speakers gave their support to the European Barnahus Movement, including Ms Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children. Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson, Lead Expert in the PROMISE project, presented the Icelandic experience and how it has inspired the European Barnahus Movement. Panels of experts discussed multi-disciplinary and interagency response to violence against children in Europe and how the Barnahus model embodies children’s rights. The European Barnahus Quality Standards document were launched.

Subscribe to the PROMISE newsletter for more about the final conference, the tools from the project, and follow-up actions.

Presentation of the speakers at the conference
Participants List
Description on the Committee of the Regions’ website
Meeting Summary

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Opening – Ms Turid Heiberg, Coordinator of the PROMISE project

Key Note Speech – Ms Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality

Prevalence and Impact of Violence against Children in Europe – Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children

Introducing the European Barnahus Movement – Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson, Lead Expert in the PROMISE project: From Iceland to the European Barnahus movement; Child-friendly justice and care in practice; The opportunities in Europe

The Barnahus model: Multi-disciplinary and interagency response to violence against children in Europe
Chair: Mr Carl Göran Svedin

Mr Erio Ziglio, former Director of the European Office for Investment for Health and Development of the WHO
Mr Hjörtur Aðalsteinsson, Chief Judge at the District Court of Sudurland, Iceland
Mr Tuomas Kurttila, Chair of ENOC and Ombudsman for Children in Finland
Ms Anna M Petersson, Barnahus Linköping, Sweden

The Barnahus model: Embodying children’s rights
Chair: Ms Rebecca O’Donnell

Ms Susan Bissell (video), Director, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children
Mr Claude Janizzi, Chair of the Lanzarote Committee, Council of Europe
Ms Margaret Tuite, European Commission Coordinator for the Rights of the Child
Ms Åsa Landberg, Independent Expert, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sweden

The Barnahus Quality Standards – Illustrations of Good Barnahus Practice in Europe
Chair: Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson

Ms Olivia Lind Haldorsson, Senior Researcher, PROMISE: Introducing the PROMISE Good Practice Standards
Ms Ólöf Ásta Farestveit, Head of the Icelandic Barnahus: Forensic interviews and the court proceedings
Ms Resmiye Oral, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, USA: Medical evaluation for forensic purposes and the child’s physical wellbeing
Ms Gordana B Flander, Director Centre for Child Protection, Croatia: Short and long term psychological support. Link to publications referenced in English.
Ms Janet van Bavel, Project Leader Kenter, Jeugdhulp, Netherlands: Enabling inter-agency information exchange


logo_CoR-vertical-positive-en-quadri_MR The conference was kindly hosted by the Committee of the Regions.

PROMISE Exchange 3 in Haarlem, Netherlands

The PROMISE pilot countries, partners and experts met in Haarlem, the Netherlands on 13-14 March 2017. This was the final meeting in the PROMISE exchange series.

With a focus on linking policy and practice, they went on a study visit to the Multi Disciplinary Center Child Abuse and Neglect at Hospital Hoofddorp and to the Child and Youth Trauma Center KENTER in Haarlem, Netherlands. The pilot countries gave a short progress update, and the meeting took a last deep dive into the products of the project before finalisation.

Find out more at the event’s page.

Linköping inspires a European movement to establish Barnahus

On 28-29 November 2016, professionals from around Europe will meet in Linköping to gather inspiration to launch multi-disciplinary inter-agency services to support child victims of violence in their own countries. In addition to a full day of presentations, the participants visited Barnahus Linköping.

At the meeting, HM Queen Silvia returned to Linköping, 11 years after inaugurating the first Barnahus in Sweden, to give her support to the European Barnahus movement.

For more information about the meeting please see the event page.

Pilot countries soak up expert knowledge in Iceland

From the 14th to the 16th of June, 42 participants from the PROMISE project discussed the implementation of the project. The meeting took place in Iceland, where the first Barnahus was developed. This Barnahus was, and continues to be, the inspiration for other Barnahus in the Nordic countries as well as for the pilot countries.

For more information and to download the presentations, please go to the event page.

The second exchange meeting started with a study visit to the Barnahus, which was followed up by a training in the Barnahus procedures led by the Barnahus staff and other professionals and agencies cooperating to ensure children’s access to justice and quality care.

Pilot countries informed about achievements and challenges in implementing the Barnahus model at the national level.

On the 3rd of June Lithuania became the first of the pilot countries to launch their Barnahus. Many of the other pilot countries are in the process.  In addition, the development of the documentation and guidance for the project continues.

For more information and to download the presentations, please go to the event page.

Exchange series launch

The series of service exchange meetings that the PROMISE project is organizing successfully launched in Zagreb 3-4 February 2016. 32 representatives from partner organisations, experts and pilot countries met at the first exchange meeting in the PROMISE project to define the elements of the multi-disciplinary and interagency cooperation to protect child victims and witnesses to violence.  For two days in early February in Zagreb, the participants took part in the lessons learned from existing Barnahus and similar models and had engaged discussions about the vision of a Europe wide network of professionals promoting the Barnahus model, quality standards and legal framework.

The Pilot Countries engaged on the project are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, and the UK (England and Scotland). These countries have been identified as having the interest and potential to transform their current services for supporting child victims and witnesses of violence into a multi-disciplinary and interagency cooperation. The pilot countries will learn from existing Barnahus and similar models and also exchange experiences amongst themselves in order to support national level capacity-building and multi-disciplinary and interagency implementation strategies.

Check out the event page for more information.