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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

Family support programmes, Malaysia

Focus 5: Supporting families to prevent abandonment and relinquishment  

Family support programmes are the first level of care to prevent children entering institutional care. A range of services such as financial assistance and psychosocial interventions are provided to families in crisis situations in order to try to prevent a child being separated from his or her family. The Department of Social Welfare runs programmes to help families improve their socioeconomic situations and to enhance their quality of life. These programmes are two-fold:

  1. direct financial assistance and psychosocial support to poor families and their children; and
  2. community-based preventive services provided to children at risk and their families through child activity centres supervised by child protection teams.

These services were mandated to be set up throughout Malaysia under the Child Act 2001, which requires that groups of people form protection teams to coordinate locally based services to families and children, if children are, or are suspected of being, in need of protection.

This programme for assistance was established to help poor families, single parents and relatives who take care of their own children or kin. A means test assesses financial need while the capacity of parents or relatives to provide care and a safe environment is evaluated, with grants available for up to 30 months.

It is planned that the programme will assist more than 17,000 families and over 52,000 children. Children of poor families will also receive government assistance to cover the cost of books, clothing and other materials needed for their schooling. Support is provided to enable families to access micro-finance and engage in livelihood projects. Meanwhile, child activity centres serve as a resource where community members can meet and exchange ideas, thus fostering community spirit among specific target groups such as poor families, families with problems and/or in crisis, and children at risk.

Other services include counselling and crisis intervention services, educational support services, child development activities, seminars/workshops/lectures on parenting and other family-oriented topics, as well as motivational camps for children and young people.

For more information see: Alternative care for children without primary caregivers in tsunami-affected countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID