Launch of renewed action to promote the Barnahus model in Europe

Promise 2 logoThe PROMISE 2 Project Partners met in January to officially launch the beginning of a new exciting collaboration to promote progress in establishing and operating Barnahus in Europe.

PROMISE 2 supports several countries in Europe in their work to improve and sustain multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration to ensure that child victims and witnesses of violence can benefit from a child-friendly, professional and effective response in a safe environment. The partners will be engaged in a number of activities to promote progress, including:

  • gaining commitment by facilitating inter-agency dialogue and developing roadmaps, inter-agency agreements and frameworks;
  • building a competent and committed workforce, including professionals from law enforcement, judiciary, medical and mental health staff and social workers;
  • translating the Barnahus Quality Standards, which define the principles and good practice standards for services that want to operate according to the Barnahus model;
  • organising training for Barnahus staff in forensic interviews, psychotherapy, medical treatment, multi-disciplinary collaboration and data collection.
    developing a methodology based on existing practices to gather children’s views on their experience in Barnahus.

PROMISE 2 builds on learning from the first PROMISE project (2015-2017), which supported government officials and practitioners from more than 11 countries to establish Barnahus or similar institutions. A series of exchange meetings, study visits and capacity building efforts raised the level of knowledge of the government officials and practitioners, who also contributed to the development of standards and guidelines.

PROMISE also produced a series of resources for Government officials and practitioners who have an interest in establishing and operating Barnahus.

Working together across Europe

Whether you are a formal partner or not, your engagement is essential to the PROMISE Vision: a Europe where child victims and witnesses of violence are protected by child-friendly interventions and rapid accss to justice and care. To that end, you are heartily invited to be our informal partners:

  • The PROMISE resources are open and free for you to use inspire national and global level to invest in Barnahus and similar models.
  • The webinar series will address fundamental topics and take deep dives into key challenges.
  • Encourage your colleagues to subscribe to the newsletter and social media for news about the progress in Europe and other important events.

Read more about the Promise 2 project:

 What is a Barnahus?

When a child is exposed to violence, a number of different actors, including social services, medical and mental health services and law enforcement actors, have a duty to safeguard and promote the rights and well-being of the child. Where these actors do not work together, the child can be drawn into parallel enquiries and assessments, moving between different agencies and disciplines, potentially causing repetitious and intimidating experiences, which can result in retraumatisation of the child and hinder the child’s disclosure and participation.

This is not only harmful for the child, but a serious problem since the child’s disclosure and participation is fundamental to ensure the safety and protection of the child, to determine the need for physical and mental recovery, and to secure a successful and child-friendly criminal investigation and judicial process.

In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition that multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration is crucial to fulfilling the rights of child victims and witnesses of violence to protection, participation, support and assistance.

Barnahus is recognised as a leading child-friendly, multidisciplinary and interagency model responding to child victims and witnesses of violence. The name Barnahus (“a house for children”) originates from Iceland where the first Barnahus was founded in 1998 under the leadership of Mr Bragi Guðbrandsson.


Photos from Barnahus in Iceland and Linköping (Sweden)

Since then, many more Barnahus have been set up, mainly in the Nordic countries. In the past two years, there has been a substantial progress in Europe in setting up, piloting and planning for the establishment of Barnahus. Similar models already exist in for example Croatia and the Netherlands.

The purpose of Barnahus is to offer each child a coordinated and effective response and to prevent retraumatisation during investigation and court proceedings. One key role of the Barnahus is to help produce valid evidence for judicial proceedings by eliciting the child’s disclosure so that the child does not have to appear in Court should the case be prosecuted.  In carrying out this role, the Barnahus offers a one-stop-shop approach, embracing cooperation between relevant authorities and agencies such as police, social services, child protection, physical and mental health services and prosecutor in one child-friendly premise. The Barnahus also plays an important role in enhancing awareness and knowledge of violence against children with key stakeholders.


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