Protecting Vulnerable Children

from Violence

· CPIMS,Guest blogger,FrontPage

Improving Child Protection with Digital Public Goods

“I am so grateful to Khan Social Worker’s* support and for the Commune Committee for Women and Children. It feels like we have a bigger family now,” Chenda* shared her relief whilst reflecting on the past year. “I still can’t believe that we are here right now. It did not always feel like things were going to be okay in the past few years.”

For the first time in three years, 30-year-old Chenda, felt secure in her home and relieved that 11-year-old Arun’s* confidence was growing at school - he couldn’t stop talking about his science lessons. As she sat on her sofa and sipped tea, she felt content and above all relieved that her husband was going to work everyday and had stopped a destructive drinking habit. Chenda had returned home after a full year of taking shelter at her sisters, ever since, the family home felt unsafe.

With support from social services, including multiple interventions over a full year, Chenda’s husband was able to access the support and encouragement he needed from his community to stay sober and employed and eventually be reunited with his wife and child.

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Social Worker Phon Chanthorn (47) consults a family in Kandal province. The family is in need for support particularly to generate income due to the mother’s health condition. Chanthourn is suggesting solutions that will help keep the daughter in school and the mother to be able to support the family. Since Primero has been deployed in 2020, more than three hundred social workers have been trained and the software has been roll-out to 25 provinces and 204 districts.

This is one of the 12,000 gender-based violence and child protection cases that are registered in the Primero case management system in Cambodia. “We are so happy when reunification happens, protecting a child or a family is very difficult as a third party. What helps is having good systems in place, including support groups and of course a good case management system. Social workers can do their jobs better since it helps them track and monitor developments” shares Phanneth Khauv, Child Protection Officer from UNICEF Cambodia, when reflecting on the game-changing impact of creating a solid, digitally enabled, case management system.

It is estimated that up to one billion children globally experience some form of violence each year, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect and bullying. In East Asia and Pacific, the prevalence for physical abuse ranges from 17-35% across the region for boys and girls in lower- and middle-income countries. In terms of sexual abuse, the prevalence is higher amongst girls than it is boys – with 11-22% for girls and 3-16% for boys in low and lower middle income countries, although emerging evidence is highlighting the growing number of boys affected by child sexual abuse. Children and adolescents with disabilities are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience physical and sexual violence and neglect than other children.

How is CPIMS+/Primero part of the solution? 
Primero is a certified digital public good (DPG) for social services. As an open-source case management platform, it is optimized for attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and for humanitarian structures and processes.  

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Social worker Chi Ramadhani stands with Rivaldi, 13, outside the family home in Palu, Central Sulawesi. Chi was the social worker who reunited Rivaldi with his family. Six months later, she says he seems much happier. Rivaldi (13 years old) was separated from his family for three days after the earthquake and tsunami impacted Central Sulawesi on September 28, 2018.

In East Asia and Pacific, Primero has been implemented in five countries including Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Thailand - its deployment is also underway in the Philippines. Each country is able to adopt it to its specific context and needs – highlighting its flexibility and adaptability. Thailand is uniquely applying Primero in hospital systems that work on child protection - to enhance the quality of care provided by the hospital to patients. Whilst in Indonesia, its first adoption was during the 2018 earthquake in Sulawesi. CPIMS+/Primero was rolled out to support family reunification and tracing efforts. Today, the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection is working on a national-level rollout for case management.

Following this, Lao PDR, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, China and Mongolia are in discussions with their government partners to deploy Primero in the coming years. Adopting Primero is enabling government partners and case workers to divert their energy away from wasteful manual documentation and administration towards providing the care and support that children and their families in vulnerable situations need.

A sophisticated system like in Cambodia can really help with keeping case management streamlined across social service bodies and infrastructures. Since 2020, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has rolled out Primero, which is now interoperable with OSCaR. OSCaR is another case management system used by NGOs. This inter-operability means that workers in government and NGOs can refer cases to each other and this helps with identifying cases, avoiding profile duplication and tracking progress for a case.

“We are now able to find all the information and associated documents of the child in one secure place. We no longer feel worried that documents might get lost or not transferred to the correct partners” shares Mr. Ngin Chantola, from the Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation in Siem Reap.

With more than 1.5 million cases registered globally, Primero is now operating in 56 countries. When Primero is brought into the fabric of child protection services, a review of child protection measures and policies is done to ensure data protection and standards are met. This results in an overall strengthened enabling environment and its digital public infrastructures.

“Think of the wider digital public infrastructure network as critical plumbing in your city that connects you and your neighbourhood to accessible and clean water all year around. Without this plumbing you will have to find alternative sources for water which will take more time and resources” shares Robert MacTavish, global Lead for Primero, on the benefit of a strong digital public infrastructure.

*Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes.


This blog was originally published on the Digital Health Centre of Excellence (DICE) website.