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.

Professor Gordana Flander, Director of the Child Protection Centre in Zagreb, and her team, provided first class hospitality and shared knowledge about the strength and challenges of the centre. Peter van der Linden facilitated the discussions among the representatives from service providers and authorities from the pilot countries from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, UK (London and Scotland). These representatives presented the situation in their countries and their reflections about the opportunities to establish the Barnahus model learning from the staff in the Barnahus in Iceland and and Sweden and from the child friendly centres in Zagreb, Croatia and Haarlem, the Netherlands.

The participants were thoroughly introduced to the child protection centre in Zagreb. The Centre is defined as a health care institution, aiming to provide effective and systematic support of traumatized children and their families. The work of the Centre is based on a multi-disciplinary approach and strong cooperation between institutions within the child protection system – which includes the nongovernmental sector – as well as implementation of empirically based practices, such as forensic interview protocols, trauma focused forms of treatment, and child friendly practices. The Centre also provides training for students and professionals in Croatia and throughout the region. A main challenge for the Centre is to establish closer cooperation with the justice system, including being supported by necessary child-friendly procedures and practices. The Centre also strongly emphasizes partnership with the media in achieving child protection.

PROMISE is managed by the CBSS Secretariat Children’s Unit. Partners include Child Circle, HAPI, the Verwey-Jonker Institute, Barnahus in Iceland, Linköping and Stockholm and the KENTER in the Netherlands. It also builds on the expertise of prominent specialists in law, sociology, pediatrics, psychology and psychiatry from different European countries.

The Pilot Countries engaged on the project are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, 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.
For more information about the project and the meeting visit the PROMISE website.


This project is funded by the European Union through the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). The project partnership is responsible for the content of this document.

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