CarINg, the wellbeing of care leavers in protection systems
A network to promote the autonomy of care leavers.
Title CarINg – Empowering Child Care Systems and Supporting Leaving Care from Inside
Location Prato, Florence
Project leader ARCO, PIN S.c.r.l
Partners Comune di Prato, Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, SOS Children’s Villages Italia, Società della Salute Area Pratese
Despite the efforts and the implementation of innovative programs such as P.I.P.P.I., social services face increasingly complex situations where parental negligence is intertwined with situations of suffering, marginality and isolation. Social workers have to cope with complex situations of poverty, delicate situations where the migration background challenges standard models of intervention and requires an appropriate training as a cultural mediator; and finally situations in which care leavers find themselves in difficulty.
Indeed, the leaving process has become an increasingly complex moment, as boys and girls suddenly find themselves without a support network. In this framework, it is necessary to equip social services with new approaches, trainings and operational tools that place children’s wellbeing at the center.
The general objective of this project is twofold:
- On one hand, it aims to contribute at developing European local strategies and professional capacities to Integrate a work methodology based on the Capability Approach.
- On the other hand, it aims at improving the quality of support for and protect the rights of children living in alternative care, with a special focus on early preparing, facilitating, and accompanying them during and after the leaving process.
This process entails empowering future care leavers (children of different ages in alternative care) and family members in feeling responsible and protagonists of a project that identifies and links them with the community. Moreover, the project activities have been designed to allow children and families to prepare well in advance for the transition period and help in reducing the challenges that are associated with leaving care.
Activities of the project
All the activities focus on promoting children’s agency and participation as key ingredients for achieving a healthy and fair transition to adulthood. This entails a step forward towards:
- self-confidence, which is defined as the participants ability at repositioning their capacity to influence in their daily life;
- a relevant ownership of the process, i.e. participants taking the lead;
- an increasing awareness of the social fabric that surrounds them;
- a more predisposed attitude towards collective action among all children and family members participating.
- Direct involvement of children in planning and deciding for their best future possibilities
By involving governmental bodies, the project offers financial support scheme for these young people to allow them to have access to training/employment/recreational opportunities. The project also plans to actively involve important stakeholders – such as high education institutions, employers (SMEs) and other organizations that play a role in providing opportunities for children.
By engaging several stakeholders CarINg adopts an ecosystem-based approach which considers education and employment as key factors in care leavers’ development. Likewise the social services will have the opportunity to challenge standard practices and improve the quality of the care by delivering sustainable solutions to problems, overcoming resistance to change and innovation
Furthermore, CarINg will develop and put in practice improved working methods for children in and about to leave alternative care. This will be done with the Capability Approach, which strengthens the EU implementations of directly involving children in planning and deciding for their best future possibilities.