| Jan 15, 2024
Developing pathways for support for incarcerated children
One focus of this project is monitoring the conditions in Sierra Leone’s correctional centres - for the women incarcerated there, and for the young children who can unfortunately find their early years without their freedoms. This can have hugely adverse effects on their health, wellbeing, and opportunities.
Over the last few months, the AdvocAid team has been reviewing how we can better support these babies and toddlers. We have drafted a structured and holistic internal guide focused on supporting children of incarcerated women in the correctional centres of Sierra Leone - the Child Protection Welfare Support System. This guide also serves as a pathway for support by like-minded organisations and MDAs.
The reason we have focused on this over the last few months, is that the placement, health, welfare and protection of children with their mothers in the Sierra Leone Correctional service is a major challenge which doesn’t receive much attention. This is despite Sierra Leone being a signatory to most of the international treaties pertaining to child welfare - including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (signed and ratified by Sierra Leone in 1991), and enacted into law through the national Child Rights Act 2007. As is all too often the case, the children behind bars are, just like their mothers, forgotten about.
The purpose of our internal Child Protection Welfare Support System is to:
(1) Improve how we plan for the protection and welfare support for children from the moment they arrive at a Correctional Centre, through to the moment they leave. This means that when AdvocAid’s paralegals are conducting monitoring visits, they will be able to notify the team of any incarcerated children, and an action plan can begin. The system includes a flowchart to support the team to identify the best next steps, including family tracing, how we monitor wellbeing, data collection, and welfare packs. It also explores how AdvocAid establishes welfare exit support for children who have spent 3+ months in a correctional centre.
(2) Enable us to identify gaps within the system so that we can identify advocacy priorities for the government and donor community.
(3) Help us identify non-compliance, from a gender sensitive justice approach, and engage the government to respect and promote the rights of women in incarceration and their children.
One of AdvocAid’s strategic priorities is to strengthen the organisation's policies, processes and systems. Taking the time to develop plans like this for how we work as an organisation is often prioritised, but is important to ensure we work in a high quality, consistent, joined-up, and impactful way to achieve our goals. Thank you for your continued support.