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The Digital Notebooks: the digital revolution of social work

Wednesday 28 October 2020

On October 16th, we launched the first part of an online training series for social workers, the “Digital Notebooks of Social Work”. The first Notebook, "Caring for unaccompanied minors in Europe: Responses from Social workers" is the result of a collaboration with our European partners, practitioners and researchers to provide a high quality of care to unaccompanied minors. In the future, this project will further develop with the realization of other Digital Notebooks, in particular for social workers working with children in street situations.

Towards a better care of unaccompanied minors: The European context

The first Digital Notebook dedicated to unaccompanied minors was created as a response to the European context which is characterized by a lack of harmonization in terms of reception arrangements and an important variety of care services provided to these young people across the European Union. In addition, professionals from the social field in Europe agree that they are insufficiently trained to deal with this "atypical" public with specific needs. In view of these shared challenges and the growing number of young unaccompanied minors welcomed by our partners, it was urgent to come up with new solutions. Therefore, we teamed up with Salesiani per il Sociale from Italy, The Smile of the Child in Greece and the CJD in Germany to improve our caring practices towards these young people in Europe.

An innovative and collaborative tool

The Digital Notebook on Unaccompanied Minors is a new, playful and interactive European online training. Developed "by peers and for peers, the training does not impose definitive answers but rather support social workers in finding their own solutions to the educational situations they encounter on a daily basis” emphasizes Aurore Caprilès, Instructional designer of the training. The Digital Notebook is made up of 4 modules which touch on the daily care of unaccompanied children through different types of content. The several chapters cover the distinct steps of unaccompanied minors’ care, from the children’s arrival to their departure from the reception facilities. The training content is above all based on concrete examples from the field and encourage mutual help and solidarity among social workers in Europe. The Notebook is currently available in English and French. By the end of the year, the course will be available in Greek, German, and Italian.

Towards an online training course for social workers working with street-connected children

Scheduled for Spring 2022, the next Digital Notebooks will focus on improving the care of children in street situations for our international partners. Confronted with the scale of the phenomenon in many countries and the inadequate responses provided by the majority of states, organizations have been assuming the protection of these children and defend their rights. However, it has been observed that most social workers working for associations specialized in the reception of children in street situations have not received continuing training in the matter. Rather, they have developed their knowledge and know-how directly in the field.

Since 1999, based on this observation, Apprentis d’Auteuil together with its African partners have started to build a training course for social workers working with vulnerable young people and children in street situations. This reflection process was based on their concrete experiences, know-how gathered from the field and their personal skills. The different actors involved in the process gradually formalized the various parts of this “street children” training. The course aims at strengthening the social workers’ skills in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America and offers content based on the reality of the ground. Moreover, it offers avenues of action to social workers and provides them with the keys to understanding children in street situations. Given the increase of training requests, it has become necessary to offer a more accessible and better adapted training.

Today, we are taking a new step with a digital training, disseminated on a large scale to our international partners, which will allow us to reach more social workers. Unlike face-to-face training, the Digital Notebook format provides a digital space where educational teams can share content and experiences, thus promoting the development of an international community of peers. This aspect is crucial since the educational content concerning the reception of children in street situations is constantly evolving. The Digital Notebook offers a long-term support that can be adapted to educational and theoretical developments.

The Digital Notebooks have great prospects for the future as they will be broken down into various chapters, addressing different aspects of the care of children in street situations. Thanks to this training, we hope to promote the sharing of experiences and knowledge with our partners, thus improving social support for vulnerable children to promote their social integration as much as possible.

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