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"MY LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE" - a Brazilian study aimed to understand care-leavers ́ perspective.

At the beginning of 2018 the Brazilian Movement for the Right of Children to Live in Family and Community (MNPCFC), in partnership with the international organization SOS Children’s Villages Brasil, launched a campaign under the banner: “The Right to Live in Family and Community: a National Priority”. The MNPCFC is a consolidated movement of non-governmental organizations and centres of research that formed the working group that wrote the Brazilian National Plan for the Promotion, Protection and Defense of the Rights of Children and Adolescents to Live in Family and Community in 2006. Since its publication the movement has been key to its implementation and mobilization across Brazil. With the publication of the annual resolution of the UN General Assembly on the Rights of the Child in the 73rd Session in December 2018 that focussed on children without parental care, the need to undertake a national evaluation and update in Brazil of the National Plan of the Rights of Children to Live in Family and Community (PNCFC) became both timely and necessary. In July 2019, a partnership was formalized with the Brazilian National Secretariat for Social Services (SNAS) which led to the laying out of a plan of actions for the evaluation of the PNCFC which was further strengthened by collaboration with the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research to carry out a multi-dimensional study of the plan and out of home care services, prevention policy and child centred adoption.

During the evaluation process all parts agreed that there was a need to involve and listen to young care leavers and to understand their impressions and views based on their first hand experience and involve these “young experts” formally in the evaluation of the PNCFC and its subsequent revision. With the redesign of the evaluation process in the context of the pandemic, the MNPCFC undertook the responsibility for carrying out the study and invited the research psychologist Dr. Luciana Cassarino-Perez, as a leading specialist in the subject to head up the project. She was ably supported by members of the Fazendo Historia Institute and offered further assistance by the professionals from the Brazilian National Secretariat of Social Services.

This study aimed to understand care-leavers ́ perspective, highlighting positive and negative experiences in relation to the three main dimensions of the PNCFC: (1) support for the family and prevention of family separation; (2) reorganization of alternative care services; and (3) adoption centered on the best interests of the child and adolescent.

The research heard the opinions of twenty-seven young people who had been in care services for children and adolescents, from the five different Brazilian macro-regions. This took place during the months of August and September 2020, using focus groups and individual interviews. All of these were carried out online respecting the implications of social distancing imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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