Vibrant community action that supports vulnerable children and also supports formal aspects of child protection systems is essential for the achievement of our collective goal of strengthening child protection systems.
Together with its companion Guide, A Guide for Supporting Community-Led Child Protection Processes, the Toolkit aims to enable effective, sustainable community-led action that prevents and responds to child protection risks. This community-led approach is promising because it generates high levels of community ownership, enables children’s leadership, and helps communities to mobilize themselves for internally guided, positive change.
Enabling community-led action requires a different skill set than is required for top-down approaches. The tools in this Toolkit begin the process of acquiring the skills needed to enable a community-led approach. It is suggested that users of the Guide and Toolkit go back and forth between the two, acting as optimal foragers in learning about how to interweave the principles and practicalities of community-led approaches.
The Toolkit consists of four sections, each of which includes notes to users:
Facilitation Tools: These reflective tools offer facilitators a means of deepening and enriching their support for community-led work. For facilitators, program officers, and managers alike, these tools can help to strengthen the “soft skills” of child protection work such as humility, deep listening and empathy, and advance their journey of reflective practice.
Training Tools: The participatory tools in this section may be used to prepare facilitators for enabling community-led work on child protection. Also, they are useful in training program officers and senior managers in one’s own agency on the value of community-led approaches. They have proven useful in workshops for NGOs, government agencies, and UN stakeholders that help to increase understanding of and support for community-led approaches.
Learning Tools: The learning tools help practitioners to learn about communities or collectives of people in a way that is deeper, richer, and more contextualized than is usually achieved in pre-packaged assessments and situation analyses.
Management Tools: These tools are not prescriptions, yet they give NGO managers and program officers as well as facilitators concrete examples of how to enable planning, action, and monitoring of community-led processes of child protection.
By design, these tools are not checklists or universal recipes. Each community is unique and operates in its own socio-cultural, historic, and political and economic context. Communities develop their own means of solving problems, and our aim should be to support them in this effort, not to straitjacket them by imposing one way of enabling community-led work.
The tools in this kit can enable NGOs, community-based organizations, community members, and others to help many different kinds of communities to develop their own, contextualized solutions, work in an inclusive manner, and unlock their own and children’s creative potential in addressing child protection issues.
The biggest challenge, however, in using these tools is that practitioners and agencies cannot simply take them “off the shelf” and use them with success. To use them effectively, we first have to reflect and change ourselves.