Adapting the Barnahus concept to local realities

Barnahus is a flexible format for providing rapid access to justice and care for child victims and witnesses of violence. Join our webinar Thursday to learn how Barnahus Linköping, Sweden and the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, Croatia work to achieve the Barnahus Quality Standards in their local contexts.


Shawnna Von Blixen, representing the Council of the Baltic Sea States, introduced the webinar by shedding light on the ongoing PROMISE project, which centres on the Europe-wide implementation of Barnahus quality standards, aiming to safeguard children’s rights to protection, support, and representation. The project undertakes a variety of initiatives, including gaining commitment from key authorities, facilitating interagency dialogue, organizing national roundtables, and establishing strategic plans, roadmaps, and interagency agreements.

Anna M Pettersson, Social Worker/Coordinator, Barnahus Linköping, Sweden, discussed the specific measures taken by Barnahus Linköping to achieve each of the 10 Barnahus Quality Standards. One area she emphasized was Standard 5, which pertains to Interagency Case Management. Barnahus Linköping’s approach to this standard is underpinned by consistent communication and collaboration between multiple stakeholders. In order to foster this interagency dialogue, they hold weekly joint consultation meetings. These gatherings offer a platform where cases can be reviewed and discussed. Further deepening the level of cooperation, a dedicated working group meets once a month. This group is composed of representatives from all partners involved in child protection. Lastly, they have a steering committee that meets five times a year.

Prof. Gordana Bljan Flander, PhD, Director, shed light on the efforts of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center in aligning their practices with the 10 Barnahus Quality Standards. These standards serve as a benchmark for child protection services, ensuring that the welfare and best interests of children are always at the forefront.

In the context of the implementation of Standard 4, the Child Friendly Environment, Prof. Flander drew attention to some of the measures the center has taken. In order to maintain a child-centric approach, the center established a Children and Youth board in 2017. The input from these young individuals has significantly shaped the center’s operations, ensuring their decisions and actions are attuned to the needs of the children they serve. Particularly, this board has played an instrumental role in developing a welcoming environment for adolescents. Moreover, the center has put necessary safeguards in place to eliminate any potential interaction between victims and alleged perpetrators. They have instituted separate entrances to avoid any distressing encounters, reinforcing their commitment to creating a secure and comfortable atmosphere for the children.

About the speakers

Anna M. Pettersson works as a coordinator at the Barnahus in Linköping, Sweden. The Barnahus started in 2005 and she has followed the Barnahus development from the very beginning, first as a representative in the working group and then, from 2012, as coordinator. She is a social worker and has earlier mainly been working with children and adolescents within social services. As a coordinator, she is also a member of different development groups, dealing for example with genital mutilation, violence in close relationships, and the importance of routines for children within the target group. She holds lectures about routines and the process of the Barnahus Model, how to identify children at risk within the target group and what to do once the children have revealed something.

Gordana Buljan Flander (PhD) is a psychologist, psychotherapist and Director of the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb. She has been working with children for over 30 years and was amongst the first professionals in Croatia who recognized the importance of the issue of child abuse and neglect. In 1997 she founded the helpline for abused and neglected children; in 2002 she initiated the foundation of the Child Protection Center of Zagreb – the only health care institution specialized in working with traumatized children in Croatia. Besides working directly with children and families, she is active as an academic and wrote 7 books and several scientific papers. She works as a lecturer on many universities and is Court Expert for psychology, conducting trainings in domestic, regional and international settings, sharing experiences with other professionals in Croatia and worldwide.

The PROMISE Webinar Series is co-organised with Terre des Hommes, a partner of this project, as part of the ChildHub’s child protection webinar series.

Related webinars and publications

April 29, 2022

PROMISE Hub guidance and manual

A data protection guidance and user manual for PROMISE Hub, a case management software developed by Bonigi, and provided by the Network that supports multidisciplinary case management in Barnahus....