Our mission is to make an effort to give a better future to the children through education and strengthen them in their position in Sri Lanka with respect and recognition in children’s rights for the survival, development, protection and in participation. We believe that a child is one who is under the age of 18 years as explained in the United Nations ‘Convention of the Rights of the Child’
1.1 Friends Lanka Child Foundation will educate its Staff, Board members and Volunteers about child protection. This includes a definition of child exploitation, rights of children, local laws, present situation (local and global), role of Friends Lanka Child Foundation in child development, and the Child Protection Policy of the organization.
1.2 Friends Lanka Child Foundation will seek to develop the awareness of the issues concerning child protection among sponsors. The sponsors will be briefed on this prior to their project visits.
1.3 The Child Protection Policy of the Friends Lanka Child Foundation will be included in the Staff and Board Manuals and also in the new staff, board and volunteer orientation. It shall also be incorporated to the sponsor visit brochures and visitor orientation. Friends Lanka Child Foundation staff, board members, volunteers and visitors should sign to prove the understanding of the Child Protection Policy of the organization and agree to abide by the same.
2.1 Friends Lanka Child Foundation prohibits the employment of any person who is a prior accuse for child abuse. If such person is being considered for any position which includes contact with or access to children. This concern does not arise from distrust of the individual, but need to protect the children.
2.2 The risks to the child and to the organization are the same whether the individual is an employee, volunteer member or visitor.
2.3 All information collected from applicants will be treated with high confidentiality. Documents pertaining to the screening process will be marked “Confidential”. Except the management who is carrying out the investigation or those who need the information for decision making purposes. No other staff member shall have access to the information. Data collected will be kept confidential with the Management.
Screening Existing Staff, Board Members and Volunteers
3.1 Staff who works directly with children will undergo a special screening process by the Management. The staff will be required to produce a Police report (the Police report submitted should not be more than 30 days old from the date on which the report is requested by the Management). In addition, the Management may request for letters of recommendations and character certificates from other valid third parties.
3.2 Project Coordinators at all levels are expected to be vigilant about their Team members (particularly those who work directly with children) with respect to the safety of children. The Management should be informed immediately regarding suspicious behavior of any staff member. A special inspection shall be carried-out on the individual staff member and may include requisition of a police report and collection of information from his or her colleagues, subordinates, Project Coordinators etc.
3.3 Furthermore, every staff member will be requested to provide an official declaration whether in the past, he or she had committed/supported child abuse. They will also be invited to sign a statement of consent to review their current position if revealed that they have previously been involved in exploitation of children or in assisting such acts (this does not necessarily result in the termination of their employment. Depending on the degree of involvement in such acts and the present mental condition, the concerned individual/s could face transfer of responsibilities to remove potential risks).
3.4 Individuals applying for employment, voluntary assistance and those who are being considered as Board members should be screened prior to their appointment.
3.5 The interviewer should ask appropriate questions relating to child exploitation directly as it is permissible by law to do so. Once an applicant is selected he or she will be required to produce a Police report within four months from the commencement of the probation period (the Police report submitted should not be more than 30 days old from the commencement date of employment/contract). A copy of the letter requesting for such report from the Police by the selected applicant has to be provided to the Management before signing the contract.
3.6 Where it is considered necessary, the applicant will be required to give his/her consent to Friends Lanka Child Foundation to contact government officers or law enforcement agencies directly and obtain information regarding the applicant.
3.7 Conviction of any kind of child abuse or exploitation will automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration.
Screening Sponsors and Visitors
4.1 All visitors who are scheduled to visit projects will be made aware of the Friends Lanka Child Foundation, Child Protection Policy, especially the Behavior Protocols and Communication guidelines.
4.2 The visitors will be provided with copies of the Child Protection Policy and are required to sign and acknowledge receipt and agree to abide by same. Furthermore, a staff member shall accompany the visitors on their visits to project areas.
Establishing Behavior Protocols
5.1 It is necessary for Friends Lanka Child Foundation’s employees, Board members, volunteers and visitors to be culturally sensitive and observe the customs of the people in respective areas. Conduct of those who represent Friends Lanka Child Foundation, is important as problems could arise if his or her behavior is perceived by others to be inappropriate even though the motives and intentions are good.
5.2 However, this does not mean that the adults need to completely curb natural love and affection they have towards children.
5.3 The following behavior protocols shall be put into effect in order to make Friends Lanka Child Foundation more effective and provide a safe and secure environment where the children experience love, compassion and security. Failure to observe Friends Lanka Child Foundation’s Behavior Protocols by an employee of the organization grounds for discipline, up to and including dismissal from employment.
6.1 Special focus is to be paid on the status of children when planning programs. Program strategies should include activities to promote prevention of child abuse and create a safer environment for the children. Strategies should include plans for the rehabilitation of children who have been abused and exploited in the area.
6.2 Friends Lanka Child Foundation is a strong supporter of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child and all efforts will be made to ensure the implementation of its provisions in projects. Friends Lanka Child Foundation will undertake to educate its staff, project communities and beneficiaries about abuse and exploitation of children.
6.3 The staff shall be proactive in working to safeguard the rights of children (example: it has been a longstanding practice of parents in the rural areas to send their children to houses in the urban areas as domestic aides. This should not be tolerated except in instances where the child benefits by being taken care of by another party who sincerely works towards the child’s development. In the event a staff member fails to convince the parents to bring the respective child back from an employer, the staff should not hesitate to lodge a complaint against the parents/ child’s employer with the Police).
7.1 No communication material of Friends Lanka Child Foundation should violate the rights of children. Photographs which are taken by staff/member/visitors will be assessed by Friends management in order to ascertain that none of the material will violate the rights of the children.
7.2 Photographs of children should be decent and respectful. Children should be adequately clothed in order to avoid poses that could be interpreted as sexually suggestive. Any photographs of children that are being published should have the consent of the children and parents/guardians. Information that could be used to identify the location of a child should not be provided to people outside unless approved by the management.
8.1 Friends Lanka Child Foundation will use its resources to make maximum efforts to eradicate child exploitation and will oppose any kind of discrimination against children and shall be involved in advocacy for child protection. This will include lobbying for a change of policies, attitudes and practices of government and public with regard to children.
8.2 Friends Lanka Child Foundation will collaborate with other groups and individuals in promoting child protection.
9.1 Friends Lanka Child Foundation shall not partner with any other person or organization that has been convicted of violating children’s rights.
9.2 Friends Lanka Child Foundation shall not establish business connections with any person/s who are involved in producing, transporting or marketing products/items that could be harmful for the development of children.
Response to Allegations of Child Abuse
10.1 Friends Lanka Child Foundation does not tolerate any form of abuse against children.
10.2 Proper and fair investigation will take place in order to ensure due respect for the privacy and confidentiality of both the child and the individual whose behavior is at issue. Immaterial of the employee’s status and the position in the organization, Friends Lanka Child Foundation shall stand by the child in bringing justice to the situation.
10.3 Any allegation or information of child abuse committed by an employee will be handled responsibly the management. The Management may appoint special officers to assist them with the investigation work.
10.4 The service of a qualified child psychiatrist will be engaged to obtain information from the child in question. If the investigation reveals proof of guilt in the case shall be immediately handed over to the state officials for further investigation. In the event a case has been filed in courts against an employee, the management will suspend the working contract of the individual until the verdict is given. If proven guilty, the employee shall face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment. Friends Lanka Child Foundation will give its full cooperation to the state authorities in order to bring fast and equitable adjudication.
10.5 Protection of children is a prime concern of Friends Lanka Child Foundation and we will not hesitate to defend or speak on behalf of a child. Friends Lanka Child Foundation will take steps to bring justice to any child abuse incident by representing the child as the sole representative or as a partner with any other group or groups. Friends Lanka Child Foundation will ensure that due respect is given to the privacy and confidentiality of both child and the individual whose behavior is at issue.
10.6 All possible assistance will be provided to ensure safety, justice and rehabilitation for the effected child.
10.7 Friends Lanka Child Foundation shall make maximum effort to address the needs of children who have been in situations of abuse, neglect or exploitation and shall make arrangements to provide professional therapeutic assistance to the affected children in order to guide them to healing and restoration.