Bantwana’s innovative models of care reflect the community’s needs. These models address the comprehensive needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the following areas:
- Child Protection
- Economic Strengthening
- Health and Nutrition
- Early Childhood Development
- Psychosocial Support
- Legal Support
Bantwana supports dedicated community-based organizations who are best placed to provide long-term assistance to vulnerable children and families. We do this by helping local partners build the management, financial, evaluation, leadership, and technical skills necessary to expand and sustain high quality services. Bantwana complements its community approach by working directly with government to strengthen social service systems from local to national levels.
Core elements included in Bantwana’s integrated Social Service Systems Strengthening Approach include:
Community organizations directly address the urgent needs of vulnerable children and families. However, they typically lack the time and resources to coordinate with other community service providers, are not aware of all the services that exist, and are not well linked to one another or to the larger government social service system. Bantwana’s referrals and networking model brings community-based and government service providers together to identify available services. These providers then design basic protocols that align with national policy and allow for effective referrals and follow-up. Bantwana also equips community volunteers and service providers with skills to track, monitor, and routinely evaluate the referral system to address gaps and make simple improvements. Referrals improve access for OVC to a continuum of comprehensive care.
Bantwana’s Case Management model builds upon existing community efforts by equipping volunteer case workers with basic skills to address a range of issues affecting vulnerable children. These issues may include abuse, defilement, neglect, malnutrition, school drop-out, early marriage, and any other issues that seriously impede children’s development. Children who need case management are identified through community leaders, schools, and local community committees. Case workers are assigned directly to children and families to ensure that cases are followed up and that services are received. Bantwana and local partners also train government social workers in case management skills and strengthen the referral system between community volunteers, service providers, and government social services.
Government support for comprehensive OVC service delivery is crucial to improve and sustain effective programming. Bantwana and its local partners work closely with local government to advocate for the inclusion of OVC services in government actions plans and budgets. Examples include: 1) supporting government to issue health exemption cards that eliminate healthcare service costs for vulnerable children, and 2) enforcing education policies that ensure vulnerable children are able to stay in school, even if they are unable to pay school fees and other associated costs.
Bantwana works closely with government from the outset of programming, uses data to demonstrate service delivery gaps, and helps governments to monitor and track efforts dedicated to service improvement for OVC.
Back to Top
Models of Care
Without the protection of parents or a caring adult, OVC are at particularly high risk of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation – even more so in communities with high rates of HIV and poverty. Despite national child protection laws and global children’s rights treaties, conventions are typically not well known by children or their caregivers. In communities where harmful social practices towards children persist, violations to children’s rights are commonly under recognized and under reported.
Bantwana’s unique approach to child protection programming places children at the center of an integrated strategy to uphold their rights and understand their responsibilities. Our strategy also reduces children’s risk to violence and abuse and strengthens mechanisms for reporting violence against children. This approach aims to do the following:
- Use Bantwana’s Child Protection Booklet and child-led efforts to raise awareness and teach children about their rights, their responsibilities, and how and where to report abuse.
- Help parents/guardians, teachers, community volunteers, government social workers, probation officers, police, and others to: understand national laws and policies outlining children’s rights; uphold children’s rights in school, at home, and in the community; engage in activities to raise awareness; and advocate for improved reporting and follow-up services in cases of abuse.
- Improve coordination and referrals between schools, community-based child protection providers, probation officers, police, and community volunteers to ensure children receive the support they need and that cases are followed to their conclusion.
Orphans and vulnerable children are susceptible to a range of health issues, including increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, malnutrition, and – particularly for girls – domestic and sexual violence. Bantwana helps local partners and government health service providers expand OVC access to primary healthcare; a range of HIV prevention, care and treatment services; nutrition services; and adolescent reproductive health. Bantwana has also developed a pediatric HIV and AIDS model to ensure that HIV+ children have access to rapid treatment. Bantwana trains community volunteers and engages district and community-level health clinics to ensure that children receive critical health services.
Back to Top
Global evidence and findings from Bantwana’s own research suggest that improving the economic stability of vulnerable households translates to better material well-being for OVC. Greater economic stability enables parents and guardians to cover school costs, pay transport fees to get to health clinics, provide needed nutrition, and make home improvements. Bantwana’s economic strengthening interventions include village savings and loan models (VSLAs) to market-linked strategies that move families along an upward continuum of economic growth and stability. Bantwana and its local partners financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and basic business planning and management skills. Bantwana also helps families engage in collective marketing activities that offset material input costs and increase profit margins.
Bantwana focuses on the economic needs of youth by equipping them with basic business and entrepreneurship skills, and by placing them in mentorships and internships within the private sector. Youth learn critical “soft skills” like communication, professionalism, teamwork, and basic time and money management. Bantwana also links youth to critical HIV, reproductive health, and child protection services.
Vulnerable children frequently miss or drop out of school due to poverty, household responsibilities, or to care for children or sick relatives. Unwanted pregnancy and early marriage leave girls particularly vulnerable to dropping out. Bantwana’s education model includes school block grants that help defray OVC’s school costs. Bantwana supports school-based income generating programs that use the profits to offset education costs for OVC. Out-of-school study groups enable youth to catch up on academic and life skills so that they can re-enter formal school. Older youth can learn entrepreneurship and trades that prepare them for employment.
Bantwana’s school-based models bring a range of needed services – health, income generation, nutrition and psychosocial support (PSS) – into schools, which help children stay in school. Bantwana also establishes health and child rights clubs that provide youth with critical information, help them build leadership skills, and allow them to form strong bonds with their peers and trusted adults. Bantwana’s direct advocacy with governments helps to ensure that schools honor policies mandating free education for OVC; it also helps government improve school governance policies to address specific OVC needs.
Bantwana promotes early childhood development (ECD) and education in communities by supporting community preschools and other ECD service providers. Bantwana trains teachers and develops teaching and learning materials, enabling these providers to expand their reach and improve service quality. Preschools and ECD services are linked with other service providers in the community to facilitate collaboration and referrals for vulnerable children and families. Bantwana also conducts efforts to raise parents’ and guardians’ awareness about the benefits of ECD. Increased awareness leads to greater demand for ECD and strengthens the community’s sense of ownership around educating young children.
Back to Top
Children who have endured great adversity (such as the loss of a parent or neglect) often experience psychological stress that threatens their development. This stress includes withdrawal, feelings of guilt (when parents or caregivers are ill or have died), depression, aggression, and disturbances in eating, sleeping, and learning. Children whose parents have died of AIDS may face rejection by friends, neighbors, and teachers because of stigma around the illness. Despite best intentions, guardians and other caretakers often fail to detect and address the symptoms of psychological distress. This stress can have serious implications for children, as it can to poor decision making and increased vulnerability to exploitation, abuse, and neglect.
Bantwana’s simple PSS interventions support caregivers to better address the emotional and psychological needs of children. In Uganda, Bantwana-trained PSS volunteers make monthly home visits to vulnerable households, creating an outlet for children to share their feelings. The PSS volunteers also help caregivers to problem solve and cooperate better with children in their care. They also refer children and families to needed services. In Swaziland, Bantwana’s Lisango-Liguma program pairs vulnerable youth with caring adults to discuss important issues youth face as they become adults.
Highly vulnerable children often need legal help to ensure their rights are protected and that they have access to the services they need. Bantwana helps local partners address the legal needs of vulnerable children and families including birth registration and birth certificates, child support, guardianship and custody issues, and inheritance rights.
Back to Top