CHILD PROTECTION POLICY OF THE FEDERATION OF MOTHER AND CHILD HOMES AND SHELTERS (ETKL)
This policy describes the measures that are taken to make sure that staff, operations and projects of ETKL do no harm to children nor expose them to the risk of harm and abuse, and that any concerns the organisation has about children’s safety are reported appropriately. ETKL is committed to protect all children, irrespective of ability, ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality,and culture.
The Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters (ETKL)
ETKL is a nationwide child welfare organization that helps children and families in difficult and insecure situations and prevents violence against women and domestic violence. ETKL is a central organisation, doing advocacy and development work with 31 independent member NGOs throughout Finland and supporting members in their work. The services for children are mainly in the member organisations. However, the staff of the central organisation meet children in our training center Sopukka, as participants of different types of events organized by ETKL. We also work with children in chat-services and there are children as experts of experience in different development and advocacy projects.
Legal basis of the policy
This Child Protection Policy is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, National Child Strategy and national legislation.The UN CRC provides a comprehensive framework for protection and participation of children. In all actions concerning children, the pivotal principle is always to consider the best interests of the child. All children have the right to participation, non-discrimination and the right to develop to their full potential. Children must be protected from all kinds of violence and abuse. Child is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years.
The vision of ETKL is “Everyone is safe”. ETKL does not tolerate any form of misconduct, malpractice or harm generated to children in or by its own activities. Children are to be protected and safeguarded to the maximum possible extent from actions that place them at risk of violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination, injury and any other harm, such as breach of privacy. Any illegal, unsafe or abusive conduct towards children is prohibited. This includes all types of physically, sexually or emotionally (i.e. shaming, humiliating, belittling, discriminating or excluding) abusive behavior.
National legislation is applied when it comes to criminal record background checking for staff working directly with children. In addition ETKL follows The operating guidelines for practices to increase children’s safety and criminal background checks of volunteers, compiled by SOSTE, the umbrella organisation for Social Affairs and Health NGOs.
ETKL has ethical principles for working online. They apply also to chat for childen and youth, and are based on the ethical guidelines of the cooperation network for NGOs’ online work aimed at young people.
Appropriate safety and consent measures are applied whenever taking photos, audio or audio-visual record or otherwise depicting children. In context of interviewing and reporting, both confidentiality as well as children’s right to have their views taken into account and to be heard must be considered. All data collected of children is protected appropriately.
Furthermore, ETKL does not take donations from companies or other actors, who are not committed to protecting children in their own operations.
The responsibility to protect children applies to all staff – full time, part time or engaged on short-term contracts – volunteers, trustees, partners and other individuals acting on behalf of ETKL. Any person involved in activities related to ETKL must behave appropriately towards children and must not abuse the power that comes with being an adult, figure of authority or a person in a position of trust.
Guidelines for action and reporting mechanisms
In case any concerns of inappropriate or abusive behavior towards children arise in context of the operations of the organization, ETKL informs relevant agencies and authorities. In the event of behavior incompatible with the Child Protection Policy by personnel, ETKL will take administrative and/or legal measures against the staff member. In cases of suspected violence, social services and the police of the municipality where the child lives are contacted without exceptions.
ETKL commits to regularly informing all staff members, trustees and volunteers about the child safeguarding policy, including reporting mechanisms and appropriate behavior.
Contact person for matters concerning Child Protection Policy and its implementation is the Executive director Riitta Särkelä.