Thailand Child Protection System Visioning
Vimala Crispin, August 2022
Photo: UNICEF Thailand/Suracheth Prommarak
UNICEF and Child Frontiers have supported the Government of Thailand to develop a vision for protecting children throughout the country through a participatory and facilitated process. Great strides have been made over the past two decades concerning the strategic planning and legal framework of the national child protection system in Thailand. However, the system lacks a unifying vision or ‘direction of travel’ to guide child protection duty-bearers across government agencies and, more broadly, within the civil society sector.
To address this gap, the Government of Thailand has developed a vision for protecting children throughout the country. The vision is aligned with the overall existing domestic legal and policy framework related to children and families and considers the mandates of different agencies at national and sub-national levels, as well as mechanisms for social service delivery.
The Child Protection System vision was developed through a consultative process led by a Technical Working Group comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Social Development, the agency with lead responsibility for child protection in Thailand. Child Frontiers provided technical support to implement the methodology, promote coherence of choices and share experiences and situations from other countries.
The methodology adapted for the visioning process was based on the Advocacy Coalition Framework, a strategic approach that recognizes a wide range of perspectives and expectations on issues of child maltreatment and facilitates collective agreement on how to deal with these as a society. The methodology was designed to ensure the appropriateness and relevance of the child protection system vision to the Thai context. This approach was translated into an iterative process of reflection, examining the available evidence, identifying different perspectives and making balanced choices to shape a more appropriate child protection system for Thailand.
At the conclusion of the process, Government and national team members were interviewed to reflect on the experience. Respondents agreed that while the methodology was challenging, this provided important opportunities for Thai stakeholders to share their views and opinions on the current system bottlenecks and how to address these. Overall, it was felt that the participation and sharing by stakeholders was effective and the group engaged in learning and reflection through continuous listening and exchange of information. There was genuine appreciation for the space created to explore solutions appropriate for the unique Thai context and ensure meaningful localization of ideas and concepts.
The methodology made us think differently, especially based on all the questions we were asked to consider.
Thai Government Technical Working Group Member
Based on the system analysis conducted and workshop discussions, the TWG developed the following vision and mission statements to guide the Thai national child protection system:
Child Protection System Vision
The child protection system aims at supporting families and communities to promote the well-being of children through preventative initiatives (economic, social, health) while also working with families and communities to assist families, children and youth who need help.
The child protection system vision sets a common framework for government, private sector, business, academia, communities and families to empower and act in the best interests of all children (and families) in Thailand.
This will be done through provision of universally accessible services for prevention, support, empowerment and assistance to families and children, as well as social and economic development, facilitated by effective coordination and between all child protection system actors.
Key outcomes of the TWG discussions included the decision for the system to focus primarily on prevention and supporting the wellbeing of children and families, while including response actions for those cases when these services are required. The goal is to support families and parents to fulfill their role of ensuring the protection of children and their healthy and positive development.
Next steps for the Thai national child protection system implementation process agreed by the Technical Working Group include:
Bring together all the relevant ministries and agencies together to design and agree on the vision implementation framework / action plan.
This action plan should include clear indicators to track and measure success and whether the vision is being achieved.
Engagement with MOI and DLA will be essential, as these agencies will have a central role to play in the implementation of the vision, particularly regarding community level support and service provision to families and children
CP System vision to be endorsed and validated by the National Child Protection Committee, currently underway under the leadership of the Department of Children and Youth.
Establish a small working group to take the vision forward and ensure progress toward implementation of the vision objectives.