About the training on monitoring child welfare facilities using system based audit

The training course is designed to enable participants to perform system based audits of child welfare facilities.

Background

All states having ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) must take appropriate actions to ensure that the rights of children are protected. When children have been placed in alternative care, state authorities need to make sure that there are proper monitoring systems in place to secure their basic rights and safety.

A system based audit is a monitoring method of checking whether a child welfare institution complies with national legislation and regulations. In consultation with the facility, the management must show the monitoring authority whether the facility's activities are planned, organized, performed and maintained in accordance with the law. In other words, a system based audit is a systematic assessment in which the various steps of the process are predefined. The focus is on the management system and how the management system is set up to protect the child – and not on how the single employee performs.

The AudTrain Model consists of two monitoring layers: inspection and system based audit:
Inspection in the child care facility is performed some weeks before the audit itself. There are two purposes of the inspection: a) to assess the situation of children - talking to children and dealing with their situation; b) to collect information on how the facility is run from the child's perspective. It is important to get the child's point of view in order to ensure the rights of children in the child welfare facility. Such information is vital for the audit to succeed.

The main goal of the system based audit is to make sure that the management of the institution is complying with the laws and regulations. The audit process is always thematic in order to catch the vital indicators, which are representative of the performance of the facility. There are different authorities doing monitoring in each country. This method is universal as any appointed body might use it to make sure that the child welfare facilities are run according to the law.

Description of the training course

The course covers each step of the monitoring process, from the initial inspection and planning to the system based audit and final report, using a mix of coaching, group work and role playing. Over four days, participants will perform an audit of a fictitious child welfare facility. Participants will get written material which describe the facility, plus a number of procedures for its operation.

The main theme of the fictitious audit focuses on the steps the facility takes to promote the human dignity and physical integrity of its children. This is a requirement laid down in the UNCRC, and subsequently strengthened and supplemented by the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care and by the Council of Europe recommendations. The countries which have ratified the UNCRC must ensure that the requirements for the human dignity and physical integrity of children are fully enshrined in national legislation. After the course, participants are to conduct system based audits in practice, using national law and regulations as audit criteria.

The child welfare facility has to specify what measures it takes to meet statutory and regulatory requirements. We will thus investigate the practices of the facility within the limited area covered by the audit. Finally, the supervisory authority will consider whether the facility’s activities and practices are such that the official requirements are met and children rights ensured.

Training day by day

Day 1

Lecture to introduce the AudTrain Model of monitoring child welfare facilities and providing overall information on monitoring. Participants will be given tuition on monitoring and system based audits in general, as well as inspections and individual monitoring (interviewing children). Internal control/management system will also be introduced.

The participants will be divided into four groups. During group work, we will take a look at the theme of the audit and what we will be checking. The provisions of legislation and regulations pertaining to the audit will be identified. These legal provisions will then be ‘operationalized’ – i.e. converted into positive duties and everyday performance of the facility. The operationalization process is made before the audit takes place.

Day 2

The second day is devoted to a study of the procedure for performing a fictitious audit, based on ISO standard 19011:2002.

The first role play will then be prepared, with two of the groups playing the supervisory authority, and the other two representing the child welfare facility. The groups will later switch roles, so that everyone has a chance to play both the authority and the facility.

The participants will devise a time schedule for the audit showing when interviews will be held and who will be interviewed. Questions for the heads and personnel of the facility will then be formulated. In addition to the written documentation from the facility, interviews are an important way to form an impression of practices in the areas covered by the audit.

Interview techniques are an important factor in an audit. Good communication, clear questions and empathy with the interviewee are needed if a successful result is to be achieved. The course will provide interview training using role plays, in which individual participants will try their hand at interviewing and be given feedback and guidance.

Day 3

The first part of the day is dedicated to role play, covering an opening meeting and interviewing the head and personnel of the facility.

The information obtained from the interviews with children and staff, as well as written documentation form the basis for evaluating how the facility is run. We will compare observed practice with the statutory and regulatory requirements. If the child welfare facility’s practices within an area do not meet the standard required, they will be classified as ‘nonconformities’.

A nonconformity is a breach of the rules, and must therefore be corrected by the facility within a given deadline.

The rest of the third day will be spent on learning how to formulate nonconformities, followed by drafting specific nonconformities based on the information about practices at the fictitious facility gained during the course.

Day 4

The last day of the course will take the form of a plenary session where the nonconformities written the previous day are presented. These will be commented on, and guidance will be provided.

We will then take a look at how an closing meeting with the facility should be conducted. This is the meeting when the conclusions from the audit are presented to the facility, and it is important that they are presented in a way that motivates the facility to correct any errors found. Agreement on the actual situation is of paramount importance, and the facility must therefore be given the opportunity to discuss the findings of the supervisory authority before a final conclusion is reached. Contradiction is essential for the success of the whole process and mutual agreement on the findings gives a realistic chance for actual change.

Practice and reflection

After the initial training, participants will gain experience by performing an audit using the AudTrain Model in their own country. As a minimum, two audits within six month’s of time are performed. Then participants will gather together again at a 1,5 day mentoring seminar presenting their audit reports, which will be discussed and feedback given. Here we will be repeating the method and the participants will have the opportunity to present their own experiences. Guidance and reflections are provided.

* This training course can be conducted only by accredited trainers of AudTrain Model. 
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