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18.08.2020, 15:30 - 17:00 CET

The first meeting of the COVID-19 Cafe series took place on 18 August at 15:30 CET.

The meeting began with an introduction and welcoming words from Martine Tobe, the moderator, followed by short updates from Katerina Ivanova (FICE TA) about the latest activities of the organization, including the COVID-19 4P LOG App project, the upcoming online meeting of the members in September (Second FICE LIVE FORUM), the publishing of the Annual report, the summer issue of the FICE Europe newsletter, the upcoming FICE International newsletter that will be aired in October.

During the first part of the meeting, the moderator asked two of the participants to present the current situation of COVID-19 in their country.

Yoav Appelboim presented the situation in Israel. •Since the beginning of the pandemic the professionals in residential care received clear guidelines from the ministry on how to protect children and young people from the virus. •A very big challenge was taking children to a summer camp, which was realized successfully by the residential care staff, taking all necessary precautions.

The next challenges include: •The coming months are full of Jewish holidays, which means families getting together to celebrate. •The start of the school year and children coming back to the residential schools after being home for the summer vacation. •It is very important to note that a system that works on a routine basis while maintaining team cohesion, support, mutual help and finding effective solutions to a time of crisis, can later withstand crises, such as the COVID-19 crisis.

Julia Kuokkanen presented the situation in Finland. •In Finland the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health carried out a survey regarding the situations concerning the rights of the child and wellbeing of children and families and to strengthen them in the post-crisis measures. The final report is to be published in October 2020. •The Ministry of Social Affairs made general outlines concerning institutional care which didn’t contribute to the questions related to the provision of out-of-home care for children. Many alternative care institutions and foster families lacked clear guidelines about how to organize meetings between children in care and their biological families. The measures were considered not solid enough to prevent the long-term effects of the Corona outbreak. •The Central Union for Child Welfare launched a survey to find out how the services for children and families have been implemented in municipalities during the lockdown. The survey revealed that in many municipalities a policy was outlined to limit health checks and client work in child and maternity health clinics to children under 2 years of age. This policy carries the risk of not identifying children and families in need at a sufficiently early stage. At worst, the situation leads to neglect of young children and increased risk of unrevealed abuse. •Further, there was an increase in the police home alerts about domestic violence have increased by 30 % in comparison to last year, while the amount of cases on child abuse that came to the attention of the police have decreased by 45 percent •The positive effect of the corona epidemic is strongly reflected in the fact that it has forced various actors to do better cooperation across organizational boundaries.

After these presentations, there were two breakout sessions, each for 20 minutes, where the participants were invited to talk about the biggest challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis (the first round) and opportunities and innovative solutions (second round). Each group had to appoint a moderator - the youngest person in the room. In between and after the second round there was discussion, in which the moderators presented the highlights of the group discussion.

Some of the main challenges that were mentioned included: •The start of the school year and how to keep children and professionals safe from COVID-19.

•More research needs to be carried out in order to reveal what was the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on children in out-of-home care as well as to find ways to improve future measures.

•Many countries are witnessing higher numbers of domestic violence cases.

•In many countries there is a lack of devices in residential care and many children did not have access to online education.

•What are the best ways for children in residential care to stay in contact with their biological families during the pandemic?

•How to keep street children safe from the pandemic? How to help children and families in overpopulated areas?

Innovative solutions/ good practices/ project ideas: •In Germany, an online platform was launched for professionals, that allows them to stay in touch during the pandemic, share good practices, ideas and useful resources.

•In Germany, child and youth care professionals maintained the contact between children and their parents by riding bikes or walking together, keeping physical distance.

•In some countries there were school lessons for children on TV (Serbia; Bulgaria)

•In Finland, flight staff started an initiative, called “Homework hour” to prove educational support to children who needed help with their school homework

•In countries where there was a lack of devices for children in residential care, many people donated laptops and tablets, so that children in care could have access to online learning

•A new project is being launched in Germany to help children and youth participate more in the country’s political life.

•​In Finland, the Prime Minister addressed directly children regarding Corona-crisis.

•UNICEF launched an initiative in which children around the globe sent video diaries about their life during the pandemic.

•In Bulgaria child and youth care professionals continue their capacity building activities during the pandemic thanks to the online trainings provided by FICE Bulgaria.

In conclusion, in most countries the pandemic also had a positive effect on the cooperation between professionals, who helped and supported each other more than ever.

A very big challenge is how to secure the use of innovative practices in child and youth care with the coming of the second wave as well as in the post-crisis period.

Next FICE COVID CAFE will take place on 15 September from 15:30 CET to 17:00 CET. The meeting is open to all interested participants, not limited to FICE members.

If you want to join, you can either register in advance:

or just pop into the meeting:

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