Uganda continues to prioritise child protection through systems strengthening and in particular, to improve case management practices. However, child protection remains a daunting challenge, with a significant number of children still experiencing or at risk of experiencing violence, and with little hope of receiving mitigative services. This situation is laid bare through an analysis of the case mangement data practices by Social Service Workers (SSW) in Uganda’s 30 districts. The purpose of this scoping study was to review and compile case management data at the district level in relation to child protection cases reported as well as the response to those cases.
Field data collection was done in December 2019. Data were collected through a review of case registers and files as well as other available data bases from both the district Community Based Service Department (CBSD), the Police Child and Family Protection Unit (CFPU) and the Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Desk. Besides the review of case records, interviews were conducted with 113 staff of the two departments, including the District Community Development Officers (DCDO), Senior Probation and Social Welfare Officers (SPSWO), Probation and Social Welfare Officers (PSWO), Community Development Officers (CDO) (in 8 districts only), and in-charges of CFPU and SGBV desk.
The findings build a strong case for continued systems building efforts in the area of data collection and management, and services provision to child survivors of various forms of violence. In addition, they provide benchmarks for the subsequent assessment of case management data practices in Uganda’s districts with a view to initiating supportive actions geared at improved reporting, documentation and response to all forms of sexual, emotional and physical violence against children including child neglect and exploitation. We provide a summary of findings below.
Reporting: Based on the review of available records, an estimated 995 cases were recorded between September and November, 2019. Most (68.3%) of the cases were reported to police (CFPU/SGBV desk). Majority (61.4%) of cases were female survivors. A bigger proportion of the survivors were aged 0-3 (28.6%) followed by those aged 12-15 (20.4%). Over half (65.0%) of cases reported were of child neglect, about 30.0% of the cases were sexual in nature. Most of the cases are reported by mothers (65.0%). A small proportion (4.4%) are reported by the survivors. Mukono district in the central region had the highest number of cases (83) recorded, followed by Kamuli (76) and Iganga district (73).
Case plans: Less than a third (30.4%) of individual case files mentioned any form of case plan, while in 11.3% the case plan would not be confirmed because it was either verbally mentioned after probing or it was not clear from the records what plans had been made. Case plans were more likely to be developed for cases received by the PSWO (42%) than by police (25.6%) where the default plan seems to be associated with forwarding the case to court.
Direct services provided: Most survivors are not accessing the required services. Counseling and psychosocial support (PSS) is the most commonly provided service (41.3%). Rates of accessing services by survivor vary with institution/department handling the case. Counseling and PSS is mostly offered by PSWO (48.1%) and only 38.2% of the cases handled by police received this service.
Referral: Out of the total 995 cases, referral was made in about 21% of the cases (210). In terms of the type of child protection cases, referral was found to be mostly made for cases of sexual