We help to institutionalize, strengthen, and implement an effective child protection and response system through the development of policies, strategies and child protection support and response services for the most deprived children in the country. Project benefitted 3708 children in 2019 through support to Royal Government of Bhutan, National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), and Civil Society Organizations to. The ‘Steps to Protect’ common approach was introduced as a key approach in Bhutan’s child protection and response system.
Save the Children developed, reviewed and improved long term strategic and sustainable plans for CSO partners – Ability Bhutan Society (ABS), Draktsho and Nazhoen Lamtoen. A Child Safeguarding and Protection policy was developed to ensure child safeguarding standards are clear, comprehensive and enforceable. A response team in the Child Helpline System was also formed to provide immediate support and a standard operating procedure was developed to helpthe operation of the team. A life skills training for children was conducted by Nazhoen Lamtoen at Youth Development and Rehabilitation Centre (YDRC). YDRC also hosted the Parent Bonding Program.
Nazhoen Lamtoen is the only CSO in Bhutanproviding care, protection and reintegration of childrenin difficult circumstances and children who come into conflict.
In 2019, Nazhoen Lamtoen spearheaded the pilot Case Management of children in difficult circumstances in five districts – Thimphu, Paro, Mongar, Zhemgang and Chukha. They recruited 3 Case Management Officers andstationed them in Chukha, Mongar and Zhemgang districts.
Nazhoen Lamtoen completed the home validation in Chukha district based on the rapid assessment conducted to identify the most deprived children in the pilot districts. A total of 24 children were identified through the assessment from which 7 were eligible after screening.
The case management approach has been a very effective approach in handling cases and offering the right support in collaboration and consultation with relevant service providers. It is reported that Nazhoen Lamtoen staff are more confident in implementing the case management process since the capacity strengthening trainings.
Children’s Halfway Home
Also called ‘transitional shelter’ was established by Nazhoen Lamtoen in 2018 to provide immediate care and protection for children in very difficult circumstances until appropriately reunited with family, has access to education and health services, and eventually reintegrated into the society.
Bhutan Country Office supported the establishment and operation of the Children’s Halfway Home that has, till date, provided the services to 35 children. Of which, 24 children have been reunified with their families through the case management approach. Throughout the process, the child and their family, and caregivers were consulted. A feedback mechanism system was established for children where they can express their opinions and write feedbacks for the betterment of shelter services.
To keep children engaged in learning, the shelter home organizes various classes such asArt Class by VAST Bhutan, sports, yoga, aerobics, kitchen therapy (baking and cooking), garden therapy, dance classes by Gokab, reading classes by Read Bhutan and creative craft art (knitting and paper crafts). Such activities enable children to build their own interests/hobbiesfacilitated by relevant organizations and service providers.
“I have been living in the shelter home for 11 months and I like it here because I have friends, I can go on field trips with them and, I can bake and paint”, said a 15-year-old boy at the Halfway Home.
“I love being in the shelter home asI receive more attention and care than in my actual home,” a girl child said.
“Shelter home encouragement to study,”said an 18- year old boy.
Child Helpline System
Save the Children supported the National Commission for Women and Children in establishing the 1098 Nationa. Child helpline
In the past one year, the National Child Helpline 1098 recorded a total of 2,442 calls (1498 boys, 944 girls) seeking support and services such as for counselling, information, seeking information for services, and to report on abuse and exploitation. The National Child Helpline services provided go beyond the telephonic counselling, extending to emergency assistance and provision of long-term care and protection including referral for rehabilitation, repatriation and reintegration programs.
Supporting Education and Vocational Training for Children with Disabilities
Save the Children with support from Save the Children US through donations from Mr. William Mark Haber and Ms. Heike Margarethe Sommers supported the classroom and multi-purpose training hall at Draktsho-East Vocational Training Institute benefitting 67 children with disabilities. The children will use the classroom and the hall to learning basic literacy and maths and vocational skills in tailoring, embroidery, painting, doll-making etc. The new infrastructures were inaugurated in November 2019. Draktsho is the only institute providing support to children with mild to moderate physical and cognitive disabilities.
The Children were also provided with locally written reading materials and storybooks.
The centre aspires to enhance the living standard of children and youth with various types of disabilities through empowerment by training, education and eventual integration with the mainstream population. Draktsho has two branches established – Thimphu, the capital city and Trashigang in the East.
In Bhutan children with disabilities are among the most deprived children. They lack appropriate support and services as the focus, at least for now, on health and education etc., of children without disabilities. However, studies show that 21 percent of 2-9 years old children are living with one form of disability. Thus, Save the Children, with the objective of reaching the most deprived children, have initiated to implement programs for children with disabilities. Save the Children lobbied for the endorsement of National Disability Policy which was endorsed in 2019. We will support in developing an Action Plan to support eh implementation of the policy.
Reaching Children whose mothers are at Open Air Prison
Save the Children supported the Royal Bhutan Police established a ‘safe space’ for children who are accompanying their mother serving prison termsat the Open-Air Prison for women atDawakha, in Paro district. This is the first and only such space established in the country and immediately benefitted 10 very young (breastfeeding) children and 38 mothers.
Children accompanying their mothers who are serving prison terms constitute the most deprived children in Bhutan as no support services or interventions are provided. They remain deprived of their right to appropriate care, protection, and early simulation and development support. Save the Children is the only agency partnering with the police in this program showcasing SC’s credibility and strong partnership in the country.