Protecting Children in Emergencies

Eight-year-old Erickson is reunited with this mother in Leogane, Haiti. The boy was found and brought to his parents with the help of Save the Children's caseworkers. Photo credit: Lee Celano.

Eight-year-old Erickson is reunited with this mother in Leogane, Haiti. The boy was found and brought to his parents with the help of Save the Children's caseworkers. Photo credit: Lee Celano.

In addition to responding to children's most basic needs during emergencies, Save the Children recognizes that all children are particularly vulnerable to a range of risks like separation from family, recruitment into armed forces, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, physical harm, and psychosocial distress. From the very start, we promote child protection in emergencies and engage with families, communities, donors and governments to ensure that the most vulnerable children do not get forgotten in the chaos.

What We Do: Reunify Families
A key priority for Save the Children during an emergency is to reunify separated children with their families in the shortest time possible. After the earthquake in Haiti, we worked with the government and other international organizations to help register unaccompanied and separated children and reunify them with their families. The specially trained case workers were also careful to support the children's well-being during the entire process.

Maria was one of the first mothers to volunteer at Save the Children’s Child Friendly Spaces in El Salvador after the flooding and landslides. “I liked the way the spaces worked with children.” Photo credit: Robyn Braverman.

Maria was one of the first mothers to volunteer at Save the Children's Child Friendly Spaces in El Salvador after the flooding and landslides. "I liked the way the spaces worked with children." Photo credit: Robyn Braverman.

What We Do: Provide Support
Emergencies can affect a child's feeling of security and hope. Save the Children's programs try to build on children's natural ability to recover from an emergency, and help caregivers cope during the difficult time and support their children. Save the Children implements child protection programs to benefit vulnerable children and families affected by years of violence, sanctions, and conflict. We have created Child Friendly Spaces in both schools and community, where children and their families are free to talk to trained teachers, community members and staff about the issues affecting them. If some children are identified as needing more assistance, they are referred to specially trained caseworkers who carefully listen to the children and find the services to help them cope with their problems. Save the Children is committed to expanding its child protection activities so that all vulnerable children and families throughout Iraq receive support and services.

What We Do: Create Child Friendly Spaces
Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) are one of Save the Children's most well-known activities to protect children during the first phase of an emergency or in areas of long-term crisis. These CFS can be constructed in any available space, such as under trees, in a tent, in a courtyard. With support from families and community members who volunteer to lead the activities, children have the opportunity to play, sing, and socialize with their peers — and to regain a sense of normalcy in difficult times. CFSs also help keep children safe during the day, and that allows parents to focus on finding support and services in the immediate aftermath of an emergency and gradually rebuild their lives.