The Child Protection Network of Denmark
6) The role of faith-based actors in child protection

6) The role of faith-based actors in child protection

The role of faith-based actors in the protection of children deprived of parental care

The seminar is part of a series of seminars organized by The Danish Child Protection Network under the overall theme of child protection through the promotion of transition homes and alternative family- and community-based care. 

  • When: Wednesday the 23rd of March 2021 at 14:00-16:00 (UTC+01:00) 
  • Where: Online on Zoom – Please register below to receive a link to the seminar.
  • Participants: Civil Society Organizations, faith-based actors, funders, practitioners, researchers, or individuals with an interest in exchanging experiences and methodologies to promote the UN Resolution on the Rights of the Child. We invite organizations and individuals both from Denmark and the Global South to join.   
  • Organizers:  The Danish Child Protection Network (100% for the Children, ATOS, CKU, and SOS Børnebyerne)       
  • Expert presentations: see below

Historically religious groups have played a significant role in the separation of children from their families, they lived at boarding schools and orphanages etc. The

Historically, faith communities have been among the greatest advocates for the world’s neediest children, providing aid and comfort to disadvantaged families. In fact, the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the most widely accepted human rights treaty in the world – reflects deeply-held values embedded within religious traditions that uphold the inherent dignity of every child and the centrality of the family in building strong communities. Often though, the concern of religious groups for the children have led to the separation of children from their families, as they were institutionalized into boarding schools, orphanages etc. In more recent years these practices have been documented to potentially be deeply harmful to the children. Therefore, dialogues have been launched with and within faith communities to develop new approaches to better serve the needs of children deprived of parental care.  

In this seminar we will explore the 2019 UN Resolution, ‘Promotion and protection of rights of children’ with a focus on the role of religion and religious actors. We will consider how these actors can be drivers of the agenda of transition and alternative care. National and international experts working in different regions of the world will share their experiences in this and give participants the opportunity to engage in discussions to shed further light on the problems and solutions.

Expert presentation:

The seminar will feature Dr. Chrissie Gale, International child
protection consultant with specialism in child protection systems
and alternative care. She holds a Doctorate from the University of
Bristol and is an associate of the Alice Salomon Hochschule
University, Berlin. Chrissy has had a long career working for
CELSIS, UNICEF, Family for every child, among others.

Gritt Holm Hedehus is National Director of Viva Denmark, a faith-based children’s rights organization working in Central America, Zimbabwe and the Philippines. Viva focuses on child protection, preventing and combatting violence, abuse and exploitation of children. For the past 6 years Viva has changed strategy and is today committed to de-institu-tionalization moving towards family-based care. Gritt holds a Master of International Studies and Political Science and has previously worked with Oxfam Ibis, DanChurchAid, and Act Alliance. She will speak to the role of the church and of Western funding in the de-institutionalization agenda.

Philip Aspegren, Executive Director at Casa Viva in Costa Rica. Philip and his wife, Jill, pioneered caring for children in local families in Latin America when they co-founded Casa Viva in 2003 as a Christian child and family agency that develops foster care, adoption, and family reunification, working closely with Costa Rican churches and government. Casa Viva Solutions hosts conferences and consults with children’s homes, governments, and churches around the world to help them develop and implement plans to successfully connect children to families. Previously, Philip and Jill directed orphanages for six years in the Dominican Republic. Philip will speak about their model of working with alternative care and the trends he sees in this work internationally.

Maria Luna is director of Viva Honduras. They work with children who have grown up in institutional care settings, pioneering the transitioning out of institutional care and towards family-based practices instead. Viva Honduras supports and counsels children through workshops, job oppor-tunities, and other trainings, and creates networks of support through connections among churches and communities. Maria Luna will be presenting a practice-oriented approach to the move from sponsorship/ orphanage to temporary transition centers and alternative care.

Filip Buff Petersen, Political Advisor at CKU, the Danish Centre for Church-Based Development, is working together with politicians, civil society organisations and academia to promote freedom of religion or belief in foreign- and development policies. To conclude the seminar, Filip will shed light on issues around the protection of children’s Freedom of Religion and Belief as stated in international conventions, especially with a focus on the special situation arising when institutions are instructors or take over the role as guardians.

Presentations from the experts and the recording of the seminar can be found on our resources page