FOCUS on my needs: Working together for children in criminal proceedings

Through the FOCUS on my needs: Working together for children in criminal proceedings (FOCUS project), Terre des hommes (Tdh) and its partners build the capacities of professionals to work in a multidisciplinary way on individual assessments of children involved in criminal proceedings. We also empower children to become agents of change and advocate for child-centred justice.


As a result of the project:

  • 465 practitioners are trained and improve their ability to work in a multidisciplinary way
  • 250 child victims and in conflict with the law benefit from better individual assessment
  • 3000 children and adults are more aware of the child-centered approach in criminal proceedings

When a child is involved in criminal proceedings, as victim or offender, relevant legal and child protection professionals should act and analyse together all the aspects of the child’s life, identifying his/her strengths and vulnerabilities. This multidisciplinary individual assessment helps to guarantee the access to a fair justice for the child. It is crucial for avoiding discrimination and allowing all children to benefit from the available support services, including restorative justice. Although so important, many countries in Europe have little experience in applying multidisciplinary individual assessment in a comprehensive and child focused way.

In our FOCUS project, we work in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia and The Netherlands to develop and establish a practice of multidisciplinary individual assessment that will ensure individualised responses, in the best interest of the child. For this, we build the capacity of professionals and create new tools, as well as empower children and young people to contribute to a more child-friendly justice.

Protecting children through improved practices

We review the existing tools, gaps and best practices in conducting individual assessments of children and use the results to develop and pilot new methods. Through our face-to-face and online trainings, 465 law enforcement and judicial professionals, lawyers, social workers, health professionals, psychologists will learn to apply the tools and to work in a multidisciplinary way.

Within the project, 250 children involved in criminal proceedings will benefit from an assessment that will lead to their better protection. All the professional guidance will be freely made available to support any practitioners and policymakers in EU countries in implementing multidisciplinary individual assessments.

Empowering children to advocate for child-centred justice

Fifty children and young people with experience in the youth justice system have joined our Child Advisory Boards in Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, The Netherlands and Romania. We train them on their rights in criminal proceedings, consult on project activities and materials, and empower them to become child advocates. They will exchange ideas and share their experience with legal experts and practitioners, which will help improve the practices and procedures for individual assessment of children in criminal proceedings.

By using our participatory YouCreate methodology, we guide these groups of children and young people in developing their own creative ways of communicating about child-centered justice and children’s rights in criminal proceedings. To inform more people about the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, children’s videos and other materials will be shared through social media, partners’ networks and our child protection online platform ChildHub.

Project duration: 24 months (January 2020 – December 2021)

Partners: The project is coordinated by Terre des hommes Regional Office in Hungary, and implemented in partnership with:

  • Child Circle;
  • Child Rights Centre (CRC) in Serbia;
  • Defence for Children The Netherlands;
  • Institute of Social Activities and Practices (SAPI) in Bulgaria;
  • Terre des hommes Romania;
  • Terre des hommes Hellas.

Donors: Own contribution (20%)

This project is co-funded by the Rights, Equality, Citizenship Programme 2014-2020 of the European Union (80%)