“We need to take the leadership role; we need to rise to the challenge and work with what we have! There is no time to lose…”

In the second exchange meeting of the PROMISE project in Reykjavik representatives from the 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.

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.  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.

The Barnahus model and the Children’s Advocacy Centres in the US both aim to prevent re-victimising the child when responding to abuse. However, a key difference is that the Barnahus in the Nordic countries is integrated into the public child welfare and the judicial systems. The Barnahus format elicits the child’s disclosure with the aim of producing valid evidence for court proceedings while also respecting the principle of “due process”. Therefore, the child does not need to give testimony again during the court procedures.  The Children’s Advocacy Centres, on the other hand, are independent agencies which can only prepare the child to appear in court. Forensic interviewing and guiding protocols originating in the US are the most advanced.

The participants posed many questions to the professionals presenting the multi-disciplinary and interagency cooperation in Iceland and were inspired by how the model developed over the years. Learning was also enhanced by the presentations on the quality standards and good practices, of the legal obligation and guidance material, the methodology and tracking tool and by discussing advocacy. There is a lot to learn from each other on this issue and press interest is growing. The BBC recently made a reportage about the Barnahus, and the PROMISE meeting in Iceland was a main news item on Icelandic TV.

Participants expressed great satisfaction with the meeting in the evaluation and found it well organised and delivering high quality content. Pilot countries are interested to know more about the progress of the different countries. The baseline study is a way to track progress ongoing as it is updated regularly and will be sent out to participants. Communication tools were discussed, including using the website www.childcentre.info/promise, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a newsletter to share information with different audiences.

The next exchange meeting will be in Linköping in November 28-29. See you then! In the meantime, enjoy summer holidays.

Programme in short:

  • Study visit to the Barnahus in Reykjavik
  • Reviewing the PROMISE standards, and the legal obligations & good practices that support their fulfilment
  • Entering the pilot phase: the base line, the methodology and how to use the Tracking tool
  • Exploring enabling Factors & Advocacy: Learning from the exchange on experiences to date in building MD/IA Models
  • Training day at Barnahus
  • Red thread: child-friendly environment, focus on forensic interviews and children’s access to justice, children’s participation and follow up.

Key documents:

Exchange meeting presentations 

Progress in the pilot countries

Training by Barnahus Iceland 

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