This morning, we boarded a bus to head to Beijing Chaoyue Adolescents Social Work Services Agency in Haidian District. The theme of the day was ‘Empowerment through Partnerships I: How to Work Effectively with Multiple Stakeholders.’ As we traveled to the agency, Anna provided a short description of the structure of Beijing and attractions that we passed. When we arrived at the agency, we received a warm welcome from several of the Chaoyue staff members, including the vice director, Li Han. The tour began with a brief introduction of the staff members, and an introduction of each of the seminar participants.
Following the general introductions, Li Han gave a presentation on the work that they do. Li Han began by explaining that social workers are a relatively new phenomenon in China, and that Chaoyue not only acts as a social work agency, but they also provide legal services and a temporary care center. They work to support children who are in conflict with the law, or children who are not safe in their homes in many different ways. Li Han provided a brief history of the organization, which began in 2002, and worked with children after court proceedings were completed. In 2009, they began to assist during earlier prosecution phases, and in 2010 they began to work with Beijing Normal University and were able to begin assisting children at any point in the judicial process.
The key concept that Chaoyue focuses on is maximizing children’s rights and advocating for the best interests of children. They divide this concept into three subcategories: prevention, rights protection, and correction. From there, they divide their work into several other categories, including providing social workers for children with emotional or behavioral problems, aid for victims, legal guardians, and social background evaluations. Additionally, Chaoyue runs a school for children with psychological or behavioral programs, designed to help them integrate into society more smoothly, and provide them with the same opportunities that children at normal schools would have, regardless of their behavioral or criminal status.
The presentation fostered a lively and in-depth discussion about the status of child protection in China, especially surrounding the alternative school that Chaoyue is tasked with maintaining. People asked questions regarding the curriculum, and the stigmatization that children who attend this school face. They also shared their own experiences in dealing with similar schools, and postulated how people in their own countries would react to such a school. One of the questions asked regarded the largest challenges that Chaoyue faces. Similar to past group discussions the participants of the seminar have had, Li Han stated that one of the issues they regularly face is the lack of awareness and trust of their organization, especially from other organizations and regular citizens.
The afternoon session began with a short solo activity, where each participant drew a mind map of all of the other stakeholders, NGOs, and government organizations that their organization works with. After, each participant presented their mind map and explained the strategies their group uses to work with the external organizations.
Mr. Bestone Banda gave an in-depth description of the stakeholders and outside organizations that CHIN deals with regularly. He described the working relationship CHIN has with different ministries within the Zambian government, like the Ministry of Sport, Youth, and Child Development, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and its sub-unit the Victims Support Unit. He spoke briefly on the importance that children have in the work that CHIN does, as they often make submissions to parliament that have been accepted in order to improve the status of child protection in Zambia.
Overall, all of the organizations had a very impressive array of contacts on local, national, and international levels. Many worked with UNICEF, USAID, ECPAT, Save the Children, and Girls Not Brides. Many also worked with local police, specific ministries, corporate entities, and schools. Ms. Deepika Murali specifically stated working with celebrities in an effort to promote in-school education programs through social media, and helping to boost child rights through movements like #Metoo and similar movements. She stated that using their help is often more powerful than simply releasing the information on their own.
Several of the seminar participants spoke not only on external groups that they had good relationships with, but also on groups that they were working to improve relationships with. Ms. Mariya Brestnichka spoke about her group’s efforts to reach out to different groups of children in hopes to improve the lives of more people in her country.
The discussion provided many beneficial perspectives on children’s rights efforts and connections in other countries, and the conversation continues tomorrow!