Seminar organized by FICE Brazil - Let`s listen to our children
In November, 2014, the Brazilian association NECA was welcomed to the FICE International community as a Full Member and became the first institution to represent FICE Brazil. We gladly accepted the duty to spread knowledge, practices, debates and inspirational stories on the care of children and young persons throughout the entire country.The trajectory of NECA has always been focused on matters concerning alternative or out of home care and social security for vulnerable children and young persons. As an institution devoted to researching the legal system, social security policies, the qualification of professionals that work in the field and the demands of the very persons who use the services, we managed to build a network with other institutions, associations and social movements that fight for same causes. One of these movements that we are proud to have by our side from this year on is the MNPCFC (National Movement for familiar and communitarian companionship). In order to set in motion this work, NECA, as FICE Brazil, along with MNPCFC promoted a big event, the “IV Seminar on quality of alternative care for children and teenagers: the right to familiar and communitarian companionship”, that happened on December 4th and 5th in São Paulo - SP, Brazil.Together, we built up this great event that gathered justice prosecutors, lawyers, social workers, residential care managers, psychologists and many other professionals as speakers and also as public on these two full days of lectures, workshops and gatherings. But even before renowned experts in the field our most important, most relevant and most exciting group of speakers was definitely the one of the young persons that live or have lived in alternative care services.
The main goal of the Seminar was to listen to what the persons that actually use the system had to say so any other content shared could be analyzed in the light of real statements. Therefore, in the structure of the seminar, we added a workshop where teenagers and young persons who live or have lived in out of home situations could count on a safe environment to talk about their histories and perspectives. This idea was inspired by the experience witnessed by our coordinator Dayse Bernardi, that represented NECA in the Vienna Seminar promoted by FICE International. This event brought up our attention to the subject of care leaving and moved us to implement a similar project in our country.The workshop took place in NECA’s headquarters on the first day of the seminar. In this moment, tutored by Milton Fiks and a group of facilitating supporters from partner institutions such as Instituto Fazendo História (Making History Institute), ACER Brazil, Núcleo Perspectivas (Perspectives Nucleus) and PAAC (Project Learning to Grow Up), the almost 40 participants were divided into smaller groups and encouraged to share experiences, feelings, hopes,needs and demands on different subjects such as job perspectives, continuation of studies, housing and others.Later on, these shared contents were synthesized on a document that was presented to speakers and public of the seminar as the first activity on the December 5th.
Later on, these shared contents were synthesized on a document that was presented to speakers and public of the seminar as the first activity on the December 5th.
Simultaneously, a meeting with the managing committee of MNPCFC with representatives from several regions of Brazil took place, where the directions of work were discussed to implement a debate on a national level.
We also counted with an exceptional special workshop taught by Hermann Radler, president of FICE International, on the care for traumatized children in alternative care. The response of the 35 participants was clear: it was a success. The discussion of what is trauma in the first place was truly enlightening and it was followed by a rich debate about dealing with substance abuse and its meanings and also the need to care for the professionals and carers who look after the children.The panels started in the end of the 4th and continued on through the 5th with several approaches and discussions on the subject. Our participants came from 9 States and 51 different municipalities. More than 50% of the participants were social workers and psychologists involved in the alternative care field. Other professional categories present were State secretaries, public prosecutors guardian counselors, educators, researchers, etc.The first experience after the opening ceremony couldn`t be more touching. The Instituto Fazendo História released their videos that are a result of their efforts to value and cherish the histories of people that have lived in alternative care services or worked in them. The proposition was to collect and spread their perceptions so the world can really see the humans behind, or better, in front of this reality. The narratives were very honest and the audience was very involved and moved.
Following up, there was a debate initiated by Anna Schmit, from FICE Austria, and Hermann Radler, from FICE International. The contributions of these two very eager partners about international experiences with alternative care was very inspiring. Anna presented her restless involvement with a Brazilian group called Meninos de 4 Pinheiros, where she develops a well succeeded work with children and teenagers that are progressively more involved with the decisions that actively affect their lives, generating a sense of autonomy and proactivity that surely will help these young persons on the journey to adulthood. Hermann Radler presented us with a lecture that showed how important the tender and sensitive look on the history of young persons can guide professionals and carers to a more human and respectful bond with children and teenagers.
After a warm closure with our president Celso Veras Baptista, our coordinator Dayse Bernardi, our prestigious partners Patrick Reason, Anna Schmid and Hermann Radler, speakers, participants and the NECA team went home with curiosity and interest for the next activities to come.The 5th had a very engaging start with the presentation of the document prepared by the young participants of the workshop. Among the narratives so honestly shared, many aspects and preoccupations were incisively brought, such as the feeling of invisibility, lack of personalization of programmes, very few incentive for godfathering and adoption policies. Many of them said they feel lost and afraid when the care leaving moment arrives due to lack of preparation for the adult and independent life. Other very pertinent aspects being neglected to these public were discussions about sexuality, gender and health.For the discussion of public policies, legislations and current developments in the judicial and social security conjuncture of the country, the Seminar invited the speakers and the public to discuss the Adoption Bill 394/2017 currently being discussed by political authorities. The text opposes directly the Movement for Full Protection of Children and Young Persons posing a threat to several past conquests from social movements to protect this group from endangering methods of adoption. This backlash will not be tolerated by NECA or FICE Brasil and a document was ratified unanimously by all speakers and participants of the Seminar, which was already referred by our coordinator Dayse Bernardi to the competent authorities in an attempt stop this retrocess. Other speakers brought light to technical aspect of the high complexity social assistance systems, the importance of creating a network between prosecutors, social workers, judges and institutions to ensure the familial reintegration of children and the urgent process of establishing as protocole the development of the PIA (Individual Plan of Assistance). Critiques were not diminished when the prosecutor Eduardo Dias S. Ferreira roughly exposed the outsourcing of the alternative care from the State to other institutions and how thi represents a precarization of the work relations and public policies in the area.
After a quick break for lunch, the third table approached the subject of different kinds of alternative care existing in Brazil. Very elucidating lectures were ministered about foster families, subsidized guard for extended family, the care for the family with children, dealing with young refugees and compulsory removal of children from their original families. This moment was certainly very engaging by the sharing of good experiences, such as Patrick Reasons’(national secretary from MNPCFC_, view on how beneficial the embracing of a whole family can be and Maristela Cizeski`s(Children`s Pastoral of Santa Catarina), description of the work with sheltering refugee children. But also, an upsetting truth was uncovered by Elma Lopes, from the sheltering home Novella from Mina Gerais. She exposed an authoritarian decision from a judge of the city of Belo Horizonte that determined the compulsory removal of children from all mothers with history of substance abuse. This measure multiplied by five the drastic separation of mothers and their babies directly from hospitals after the birth and the demand for alternative care institutions and professionals.
The last table of the event held speakers from projects of institutional care facilities, republic, inclusive residences and independence tutoring groups. The last one is called Grupo Nós (We Group) and Laís Botto and Anna Mariutti, from the Instituto Fazendo História (Making History Institute) explained about how they tutor young persons on daily life skills, such as doing groceries, personal finances, job interviews and other so they can reach adult life with the ability to look after themselves.The Seminar was full of activities and many questions were raised on the general subject of alternative care and its subdivisions. Our hope is that the energy that we felt during the event will keep growing so that FICE Brasil may continue to create new alliances and to fight for the rights of children and young persons. We leave this event with even more will to continue with our work in partnership with MNPCFC and FICE International.Other outcomes from this experience are already being planned for 2018 and everyone who is eager to help us in this journey is very welcome to come and get to know our projects in Brazil!