Putting the child’s story at the centre.

PROMISE aims at promoting child-friendly multi-disciplinary and interagency services supporting child victims of violence, providing them with access to justice, avoiding re-victimization and ensuring high professional standards for recovery.

The project refers to the Barnahus (Children’s House) model, and similar models such as the Children’s Advocacy Centers, embracing cooperation between social services, police, prosecutors, judges, pediatrics and child/adolescent psychiatry in one place. In the Nordics, this multi-disciplinary and interagency service model forms an integral part of the welfare and judicial system. It provides support to child victims and witnesses to violence, giving them access to justice, avoiding re-victimisation and ensuring recovery.

Barnahus puts the child’s story at the centre. In a child-friendly environment, the many sectors involved in a civil or criminal investigation work in coordination under one roof. This helps the child to be able to tell a complete story. When the story is recorded and submitted as evidence to a court proceeding, the child does not need to face the accused in court. As part of the process, victims have direct access to care and support services at the Barnahus.

Since the launch of the PROMISE project in 2015, we have seen a substantial progress in Europe. Lithuania opened a Barnahus in June. Croatia, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland have established child friendly centres inspired by Barnahus and are working to expand their services. Cyprus, England, Estonia, Germany, Latvia and Malta are soon to launch new models and operations. In Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Scotland and Spain there is significant processes underway to gather support for establishing Barnahus or comparable models.

The long-term vision for the project is that all children subject to abuse and violence in Europe have the right to be protected and be safe. This includes children having access to child-friendly services based upon quality standards, ongoing development of the services through the sharing of good practices and the mobilizing of national/local agencies, governmental and non-governmental, for collaboration to implement the Barnahus model. For a detailed description of what we aim to achieve and how, please read our Vision Paper.

PROMISE is managed by the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat (Children at Risk Unit). Partners include the Child Circle, Verwey-Jonker Institute, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Trauma Unit and Barnahus in Iceland, Linköping and Stockholm. It also builds on the expertise of prominent specialists in law, sociology, pediatrics, psychology and psychiatry from different European countries.