LOCATION: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
SUMMARY: Glasswing International—an NGO with a long, proven track record of well-designed social and development programs in the region—has designed a highly effective program to protect and re-integrate these children into their communities, schools, and families. Using a referral system that draws on and coordinates all the major stakeholders, they seek to integrate mental health counseling, support services, education, vocational training, recreation, and more in order to create safe pathways for youth to avoid endemic gang violence and have the opportunity to thrive. Glasswing’s approach strikes us as revolutionizing existing efforts, consolidating a number of reactive efforts into a proactive solution to the vicious cycle of displacement.
PROBLEM SPACE: “Emigration rates from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) are signaling a humanitarian crisis. In particular, migrant children and adolescents, fleeing extreme poverty and violence, are being returned to Central America at alarming rates. In El Salvador specifically, between 2013 and 2014, the number of children returned from Mexico jumped from 1,521 to 4,100, a 270% increase. In 2015, 5,669 youth were returned to El Salvador, of which about half were unaccompanied minors.
The Government of El Salvador provides emergency services to child and adolescent returnees. However, once released from government care, these children and adolescents are often returned to the communities they fled, facing the same – or worsened – risks and conditions. Many suffer trauma from being subjected to extreme violence and exploitation, and many remain constantly on the run, getting trapped in a vicious cycle of displacement.
Currently, the system is oversaturated and underequipped to manage the high volume of youth returnees, making it difficult to provide any support beyond the existing on-site, relief services. It is necessary to enhance the quality, depth and breadth of services in order to better facilitate returnees’ reintegration into their communities, schools, and families.”
SOLUTION: “Lead the design and implementation of a “centralized referral system” to strengthen existing services and supports for child and adolescent returnees. The system will integrate mental health as a cross-cutting element – enhancing the psychological programming capacity of existing initiatives and provide more comprehensive case-management support to ensure that children and adolescents who are repatriated in El Salvador can effectively reintegrate into their communities of origin. By facilitating access to safety and other support services, such as health, education, recreational, and vocational opportunities, the referral system will help re-establish a returnee’s life in El Salvador, restoring a sense of normalcy and mitigating future migration.
The referral system’s “command center” will be housed within El Salvador’s current reception site for returnees, the “Centro de Atencion al Migrante” (CAI) in San Salvador. The system will build on the existing efforts of governmental departments, child protection agencies, law enforcement, local municipalities, international organization, NGOs and civil society. After securing stakeholders’ “buy-in” Glasswing will host multi-stakeholder workshops, working groups, and trainings to leverage the combined strengths and expertise to: 1) devise the system’s standard operating procedures (SOP) and 2) activate the community-based, cross-sector network of service providers. Through collaboration, Glasswing will help build the capacity and capabilities of relevant stakeholders in both urban and rural settings.
The referral system will consist of trauma-informed social workers, stationed at the CAI to provide on-site enhanced psychosocial support to returnees, and serve as “resource specialists” directly referring returnees to services in their communities’ via Glsswing’s network of direct service providers. Once a child or adolescent is referred, the providers will equip him or her with basic services in their community of origin. The social workers at CAI will provide follow-up in the short and medium term, to ensure that the child or adolescent is receiving care.”
CONTACT: [email protected]