Developing Curriculum for Capacitating Counsellors of the Child Protection Unit: An Indian Experience

Review Article

Austin J Psychiatry Behav Sci. 2015; 2(2): 1042.

Developing Curriculum for Capacitating Counsellors of the Child Protection Unit: An Indian Experience

Janardhana N*, Manjula BD, Muralidhar, Parthasarathy R, Sekar K and Seshadri SP

Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, India

*Corresponding author: Janardhana Navaneetham, Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, India

Received: August 19, 2015; Accepted: December 12, 2015; Published: December 18, 2015


The Indian Government has many programmes towards the child development and all these programmes been brought under the umbrella of Integrated Child Protection Scheme since 2010. In India, Karnataka state is pioneer in implementing this scheme through establishing Karnataka State Integrated Child Protection Society (KSICPS), they have appointed 560 child protection personnel’s like protection officer, counsellors, social workers, community outreach workers and house parents at the district head quarters to meet the psychosocial needs of children in difficult circumstances. The KSICPS requested Department of Psychiatric Social Work and Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to develop a curriculum for building the skills of counsellors for enhancing the psycho social care for children. After reviewing various programmes and course curriculum, the authors has proposed a curriculum for training, same been fielding tested and finalized for circulation in the form of a capsule for other states to implement the similar programmes. All the sessions adopted participatory methodology, aimed at enhancing their existing skills. Handbook containing reading materials for all the sessions was prepared and circulated. The counsellors found that training was very much helpful, and assured that they would implement the psychosocial care for children in their district headquarters.

Keywords: Capacity building; Child protection; Counselling


India is home to almost 19% of the world’s children. More than one third of the country’s population, around 440 million, are below 18 years [1]. It is estimated that around 170 million; 40 per cent of India’s children are vulnerable and living in difficult circumstances [2], needing care and protection. ‘Child Protection’ is about protecting children from and against any perceived and real danger or risk to their life, their personhood and childhood. Protection is thus not only about reducing their vulnerability to any kind of harm and protecting them from the harmful situations. It is also about ensuring that no child falls out of the social security and safety net and receive necessary care, protection and support so as to bring them back into the safety net (ICPS 2010) as a matter of right.

The International forums have recognized these children as ‘children in difficult circumstances’, characterized by their specific social, economic and geo-political situations. In addition to provide a safe environment for these children, it is imperative to ensure that all other children also remain protected. Child protection is integrally linked to every other right of the child. Failure to ensure children’s right to protection adversely affects all other rights of the child [3]. The government of India through amending the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection) of 2000 in the 2006 and 2010 have made mandate for the government to ensure care and protection to children in difficult circumstances through initiating Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) throughout the country with establishing societies in each state to implement and monitor child protection programmes in all the districts.

The Integrated Child Protection Scheme is expected to significantly contribute to the realization of Government/State responsibility for creating a system that will efficiently and effectively protect children based on cardinal principles of “protection of child rights” and “best interest of the child”. Hence, the ICPS objectives are: to contribute to the improvements in the wellbeing of children in difficult circumstances, as well as to the reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children. These will be achieved by: (i) improved access to and quality of child protection services; (ii) raised public awareness about the reality of child rights, situation and protection in India; (iii) clearly articulated responsibilities and enforced accountability for child protection (iv) established and functioning structures at all government levels for delivery of statutory and support services to children in difficult circumstances; (v) introduced and operational evidence based monitoring and evaluation.

Government of Karnataka had been the pioneering in implementing the ICPS programme with the support of the UNICEF. The Karnataka State Plan of Action for children has evolved strategies of child protection and incorporated in the planning and implementation of all government programmes related to children. As part of the plan the Department of Women and Child Development has appointed the 560 field functionaries like protection officers- institutional and non-institutional, counsellors, social workers, house parents for implementing the ICPS programme. The Karnataka State Integrated Child Protection Society (KSICPS) in the recruitment process, understood the felt need of counsellors the need for capacity building and training of the child protection personnel’s appointed in the district headquarters, for enhancing the quality of care for children in difficult circumstances. The child protection team in the district is expected to protect children from exploitation and safeguard their rights, provide conducive environment for the child’s normal development and enhance the quality of care for children in difficult circumstances in the district. In order to discharge quality care for children in difficult circumstances, the society felt the need for enhancing the skills of the counsellors so that they can implement uniform/similar psychosocial care activities for children in difficult circumstances.

Need for Capacity Building of Child Protection Personnel

Enhancement of capacities of all functionaries including, administrators and service providers, at all levels working under the ICPS is one of the objectives of the strategy plan of KSICPS. Often children express their problems through their behaviours, which is perceived as problem behaviour, children express their feelings for their survival, protection, and general development. Rather than labelling child as ‘problem child’, there is a need for understand the ‘child in the situation’, behaviour need to be understood, help the child in experiencing the sense of safety and security. If children are heard through counselling process, it becomes an effective way of dealing with psychosocial and emotional problems of children in difficult circumstances. Counselling is an important intervention method to address psycho social issues among children in difficult circumstances, same been recognized and given importance in the capacity building training programme. Thus, counselling has become an integral part of the child protection.

Karnataka State Integrated Child Protection Society had requested the Department of Psychiatric Social Work (PSW), and Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (CAP) for developing a curriculum for training child protection functionaries. The curriculum focused to enhance counselling skills and psychosocial mediums of care for the child protection functionaries to work effectively with the children in their respective districts. The Department of PSW and CAP in collaboration with KSICPS of the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Karnataka, had organized capacity building activities through 14 training programmes for the various child protection personnel working in the district headquarters. The present paper describes the process involved in developing the curriculum for training for the counsellors and the process involved in field testing the training programme and modifying based on the feedback received from the trainees.

Process Involved In Developing Curriculum

The aim of the present paper is to develop a curriculum for capacity building of the counsellors working with the child protection unit. Four faculties from the Department PSW, and one faculty from the Department of CAP with 3 decades experience of working with children, involved in training pre doctoral and doctoral students and have conducted several capacity building workshops. The Doctoral Research Scholar of the Department of PSW was also part of the team in developing curriculum for training the child protection personnel.

The team felt that that the central task of the trainer is to support the course members learning which Lynton and [4] describes it has “learning takes place within the individual as a result of a co-influence of diverse, intertwining and occasionally opposing influences … the function of the trainer is to entice this mysterious process to develop within the participants….”.

The team reviewed the curriculums of the training programmes conducted by the Department of Women and Child development, and also reviewed the MSW specialization paper on family and child welfare (MSW Syllabus of University of Pune, Thiruvalluvar University, Dibrugarh University, university of Calcutta) and three international syllabus (Website: school of social work, university of Michigan, Berkely social welfare syllabus UC Berkely school of Social Welfare) on the family and child welfare paper. The team also had discussions with the KSICPS state functionaries to understand the need for training the child protection personnel.

It was decided that the curriculum should aim at recognizing the already existing skills among the professionals and should be designed in such as way the existing skills should be used and fine tune their skills. The team felt that the training should be able to provide opportunities for learning about the process and practice of helping skills while working with children in difficult circumstances. The team had four meetings to discuss the curriculum including the methodologies to be followed for each session. The draft curriculum was shared with the KSICPS team. The KSICPS team also suggested including some of the areas related to legislations, functioning of ICPS, roles and responsibilities of child protection personnel. The consensus was reached and decided to field test the draft curriculum for the capacity building and counselling skill training programme. Feedbacks from the participants were taken with regard to the content and the methodologies adopted based on the feedback, some methodologies, areas of field observation and timing of the session were changed to improvise the curriculum.

The capacity building training programme aimed at building the skills of the counsellors to develop Individual care Plan using the psychosocial mediums of care. The 120 counsellors appointed were post graduates in social work/ psychology/ home science with the work experience of 0 months to maximum of 6 years. The present capacity building focused on enhancing their skills in addressing unique needs of children in difficult circumstances. Participatory methodologies were used in the training sessions. Experts from the field acted as resource persons to facilitate the sessions (Table 1).