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First national seminar on alternative care

UNICEF Mozambique
© UNICEF Mozambique/2011
The Minister of Women and Social Action Iolanda Cintura and UNICEF Representative Jesper Morch at the opening of the national seminar on alternative care.

MAPUTO, Mozambique – 25 October 2011 – In the period from 18 to 22 October, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs (MMAS) in holding of the first National Seminar on Alternative Care. The national seminar was held to strengthen the process of establishing alternative care systems for children without access to direct parental care. A total of 60 Ministry representatives at national, provincial and district level were trained, including senior staff from MMAS in a 40-hour intensive training course. The training was led by a Brazilian association called “Associação Brasileira Terra dos Homens”, which works closely with the Ministry of Social Development in Brazil and which has supported Angola and other countries in strengthening quality alternative care service delivery and systems for children.

This seminar is part of MMAS's broader systems strengthening process, where the Ministry hopes to support the establishment of foster care systems and training of trainers. One objective of the seminar was to help key personnel replicate lessons learned both at district and provincial levels.  Government staff from all Mozambique’s 11 provinces where represented in the training. The training will help inform the second phase in the process of alternative care systems strengthening and technical support.

Areas covered by the training

The seminar was divided into four modules. The first module – Social family support – started with a brief presentation of the historical juridical implementation of human rights policy and changing paradigms. The module also covered the subject of children’s rights, family context, as well as systemic concepts applied to families, social networks, family reintegration, and methodologies in social work.

The second module addressed the topic of institutional care: institutional care centers and minimum standard regulations, child protection, pedagogical policies and individualized plans. It was concluded that institutional care should be a last recourse for orphans and vulnerable children. The third module addressed the topic of foster care and family care – foster and family care programs and applicable norms, as well as the selection of foster families, preparation, post placement visits and reintegration of children.

UNICEF Mozambique
© UNICEF Mozambique/2011
In her opening remarks to participants, Minister Cintura emphasized the benefits of children growing up in a family and community setting.

The fourth module was on alternative care. In cases where it is impossible to proceed with family reunification, a child must be placed in alternative protection: such as guardianship, adoption or in foster care, and only as a last resource in institutional care. Other parts of the module covered the psychosocial aspects of adoption, selection, preparation and follow up visits of foster families.

Overall, participants gained knowledge and experiences that will enable them to play a more active role in influencing alternative care and policies around it.  As a result of this exposure, government officials will be able to:

  • Continue to increase their theoretical and practical knowledge in alternative care;
  • Train social workers to systematically do social work with families;
  • Increase theoretical and practical knowledge of the long term effects of institutionalization on children and adolescents;
  • Increase knowledge of foster care family programs and adoption;
  • Strengthen knowledge and information on Alternative Care Guidelines;
  • Provide an institutional framework for MMAS to be able to assess future child reintegration and placements;
  • Address concerns over children being stuck in the system without any exit strategies.

All the training sessions were well prepared and highly interactive. The trainers tackled difficult issues sensitively and covered the perspective of the family and the child.

Currently, once a placement is made, minimal support is provided to foster care children, and the people who care for them are in need of continued support.

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:





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