Viva’s action plan: April – June 2020

In any emergency, existing vulnerabilities are exacerbated, particularly for child protection issues.

Across our 38 partner networks we are already seeing signs of:

  • Families struggling to meet their basic needs due to loss of livelihoods or movement restrictions
  • Increased domestic violence and abuse due to lockdown and high stress home environments
  • Mental health and psychosocial distress – due to crisis, and worsening of existing conditions
  • Increased risk and limited support for children living/working on the street or already vulnerable
  • Pressure on or lack of access to child protection services and reporting mechanisms/casework support
  • Increased caring responsibilities for children at home, family separation, risk of trafficking
  • Children spending more time online face an increased risk of online exploitation/viewing explicit material
  • Economic vulnerability over time will likely lead to negative coping strategies such as child labour or early marriage
  • Gendered impact – specific impacts for girls

We are focusing on child protection issues and meeting children’s immediate physical needs, as well as encouraging partner networks to look ahead and plan for the longer-term impact of this crisis.

Viva’s response is significant, in particular, because by leveraging the resources and expertise of local churches and organisations, our model results in a high return on investment.

Our responses will include:

  1. Sharing accurate information:
    • Countering myths and sharing correct information through social media and other channels
    • Supporting information sharing and connecting families with relevant services
  2. Supporting children’s physical wellbeing in lockdown:
    • Supporting families who have lost access to income and can’t meet basic needs
    • Working with partner networks to ensure food and hygiene basic needs assistance is delivered safely and meeting relevant guidance and humanitarian standards
  3. Supporting families:
    • Finding ways to provide remote support for parents to reduce stress and likelihood of abuse
    • Using Viva’s family strengthening materials
    • Targeted support for children who are caring for others; alternative care
  4. Support for already-at-risk children (e.g. children on the street) who are now at double risk:
    • Helping partner networks find creative ways to continue to support these children and to advocate for solutions with government and social services
  5. Providing psychosocial support for children who are struggling:
    • Where possible creating safe online youth spaces
    • Developing activity toolkits that can be used with children in isolation
  6. Continuing existing support to children through adapting current programmes wherever possible:
    • Adapting to online solutions where relevant
    • Looking at including elements of child protection or psychosocial support within other assistance activities
    • Support education programmes to continue with distance learning solutions
  7. Online safety
    • Preventing online exploitation and abuse
  8. Preventing burnout for workers
    • Ensuring that teams understand the need for self-care and take appropriate measures to support one another and use positive coping strategies
  9. Coordinating with local or national government to support and advocate for service provision for children:
    • Supporting local child protection structures and reporting of cases
    • Co-ordinating and providing an army of volunteers for critical functions
    • Advocacy with/for children’s needs at community/local/city/national level
  10. Considering the post-COVID world and looking ahead to build support for children and families
    • Building resilience and equipping children with tools to deal with change, loss and grief
    • Supporting families to recover e.g. through income generating projects

Our partner networks will identify remaining or new ‘connection points’ where they are still able to connect with children and families and will use these opportunities as a basis for a deeper child protection response.  For example, in Latin America, partner networks are setting up community centres which initially will support safe provision of basic needs for children and families. This acts as an entry point for child protection information sharing, referrals and casework support. When lockdown is lifted, these community centres will also be able to offer longer term support in terms of providing mental health and psychosocial support for children and families, as well as income generation projects after this initial phase of the crisis.

In locations in physical lockdown, partner networks will look for ways to deliver remote support. Partner networks in India, South Africa and the Philippines are already developing online capacity building and family strengthening materials, and our Oxford-based partner network has begun online youth work to support children and young people’s mental health in this difficult time. Through these methods Viva changes more children’s lives more effectively, and will continue to do so throughout this challenging time.