For the first time, the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children will be shared with learners around the world, including policy makers, practitioners and carers, in a free online course. The course has been developed by academics and practitioners from CELCIS (Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland) with the support of Education Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde.
Across the globe, for many different reasons, hundreds of thousands of children cannot live with their parents. To address this, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously welcomed the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in 2009 driven by two fundamental principles – the ensuring of both the necessity and the suitability of alternative care.
‘Alternative care’ is the provision of a safe and caring setting for children to live whilst they are unable to stay with their families - foster care being one example of this.
Getting care right for all children
An understanding of the implications of the UN Guidelines, at a theoretical and practical level, will be explored in the ‘Getting Care Right for All Children’ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), offered in partnership with the social learning platform, FutureLearn. The course will be available in English with some course materials (including text and videos) also accessible in Spanish and French, reflecting the truly global nature of this issue.
The initial concept for the course was proposed and sponsored by the Geneva Working Group on Children Without Parental Care, comprising of a number of major international child protection and child care organisations.
Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of CELCIS, comments: “Preventing unnecessary placements in alternative care is as important as ensuring appropriate alternative care when necessary.
“The UN Guidelines have been internationally agreed and we at CELCIS have collaborated with international experts, including those at UNICEF and with Nigel Cantwell, one of the influential developers of the UN Guidelines, to create this six-week course designed to make a difference to the lives of children in communities across the globe.
“We hope to attract a range of participants, from child protection professionals, those working in health and education, community volunteers and state and government officials. By the end of the course, participants will have a grasp of the key principals, pillars and implications of the UN Guidelines, taking in a view from across the world.
“To bring the learning to life, each week we’ve included an episode of a specially-made film which follows the experiences of a family with two children living in vulnerable circumstances as they move through an alternative care system.”
Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, commented, "We're delighted to be the chosen partner platform for these courses. The people that provide care for vulnerable children, in the instances, when they cannot live with their families, do an amazing job for society. We're proud to play a part in extending the reach of the UN Guidelines to as many people as possible and we hope our platform provides an opportunity for discussion and support for those involved."
The ‘Getting Care Right for All Children’ MOOC follows the success of the University’s ‘Caring for Vulnerable Children’ MOOC, run in partnership between both the University of Strathclyde and CELCIS, which, in its sixth run, has had over 50,000 participants from more than 189 countries since it launched in 2015.
For details and to secure a place in the “Getting Care Right for All Children: Implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children” course, visit the FutureLearn website.
Major donors for the project are the Oak Foundation.