In December 2019, all country partners involved in the PROCHILD project met for the 2nd Intermediate Meeting in Athens, Greece. Participants in the meeting were representatives from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (Finland), La Voix de l’Enfant (France), The IARS International Institute (UK), German Institute on Addiction and Prevention Research, Westfalen Catholic University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Institute of Child Health, Department of Mental Health and Social Welfare (Greece), and the University of Bologna (Italy).
The purpose of this meeting was to provide guidance on furthering the project’s plans, identifying the tasks that still remained to be done, and for country partners to present updates on their work and the progress they had made so far, particularly in regards to Work Package 4 (WP4). This phase of the PROCHILD project aims at developing recommendations among the actors involved in the assistance and protection of abused children in accordance with a transferable interdisciplinary intervention model. In order to develop these recommendations, each country partner was tasked with assessing the quality of services from minors and parents/guardians who have encountered protection and support services, and conducting roundtables and focus groups with professionals working in child safeguarding to gain their feedback and comments on identifying current obstacles causing service fragmentation and their corresponding suggestions for improvement and best practices.
One of the highlights from the first day of the Intermediate Meeting included representatives from Greece, Italy, Finland and France sharing their provisional results from their roundtables and focus groups. Representatives from Greece reported that professionals participating in the roundtables and focus groups found these sessions to be useful and enjoyable. The third focus group with stakeholders involved in child abuse and justice operators seemed to particularly productive as more specific and clearer points were made. In the two roundtables that took place in Italy, it was mentioned that it can be difficult to gain the support and protection service from police and law enforcement in certain cases. Representatives from France were happy to report that every professional participating in their rountables were excited to come together and exchange their experiences. The French facilitators were surprised to see professionals put aside differences and share ideas or difficult situations in order to work with one another and not just complain or criticise their counterparts. These professionals recognised the need of multidisciplinary and multi professional sessions and proposed regular meetings to further understanding of the problems causing service fragmentation and brainstorm ways of improving the system. Lastly, the professionals emphasised the importance to cooperation among services, suggesting that even the best protocols are useless without cooperation. Further dialogue during the first day included discussions surrounding safeguarding professionals reporting a lack of training in child protection practices, how to define ‘considerable suspicion’ and the intricacies of how and when to report a child’s situation based on a professional’s doubts and suspicions.
The focus of the second day shifted toward the project’s Work Package 5 (WP5), which mainly aims to develop and deliver multidisciplinary training to professionals involved in violence against children. The country partners discussed the content of training materials according to the modules described in the Grant Agreement. Though each country will adhere to a core training material developed by the Greek partners, it was agreed that each country will adapt the content of the material according to the target groups of the training. At the end of the meeting, country partners agreed that the deliverables for WP5 will comprise of each country’s main topics and materials for the development of integrated training modules, an evaluation on the quality of the training, a blog with links to interesting sites and helplines, and in depth lectures for undergraduate and postgraduates students organised by the University of Bologna.
The next time the partnership will come together will be in London in May 2020.