Photo credit Maskot Every year, about thousands of children in Sweden stay in sheltered housing. For two years, Barnafrid, Save the Children, Marie Cederskiöld University, Gothenburg Church City Mission and the General Children's House Foundation participate in an EU-funded project, After the violence – rights for children in sheltered housing. After the violence is about strengthening the right to protection, support and participation for children who have experienced domestic violence, during and after their time in sheltered housing. The full title of the project is "After the Violence: Ensuring Child Rights Based Protection and Support to children who are victims of domestic violence, during and after their stay at women shelters in Sweden". The overall aim of the project is based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, EU Directive 2012/29/EU and the Istanbul Convention.

Within the project, a model has been developed and tested at six sheltered housing in Sweden during 2021-2022. The model has been developed to ensure a child rights perspective in sheltered housing in order to increase children's right to protection, participation and support during stay in sheltered housing. The model is called the Puzzle, as a puzzle will not be complete until all the pieces are in place. When a child together with their parent is placed in a sheltered accommodation, it is important that all the pieces are in place to more easily ensure that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is followed and that professionals around the child have the knowledge to put in the right efforts.

The project framework: knowledge about violence against children

The aim of the project is for children in sheltered housing to have the right access to protection, support, treatment, together with increased participation, play and activity when placed in sheltered housing. In order for this to be possible, knowledge about violence and the consequences of violence is needed to increase among professionals, i.e. all staff in sheltered housing, social workers who handle cases where there is a special need for protection. It´s important to have knowledge of different types of violence, as well as how to respond, how to give children information and right care. Therefore, the puzzle is framed by knowledge of violence.

Children have the right to be protected from all forms of violence (Article 19 of the Convention), they also have the right to the best possible health (Article 24), the right to rehabilitation and social reintegration (Article 39) and the right to rest, leisure and play (Article 31). To be heard and included in matters concerning them (Article 12); All measures concerning children shall be considered on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child (Article 3). This applies to all children in Sweden, which also includes the child in sheltered housing.

Puzzle piece: Trauma informed care

Trauma informed care is a research-based approach that aims to create environments that promote healing and recovery for children who have been through difficult experiences. In the training, staff at the shelteres gain knowledge about how trauma affects the child's development and how they can support the child in everyday life. The training is given over two days and then consultation is given on how the approach is implemented in practice.

Puzzle piece: Information and participation

Children who is placed at shelters need to be involved by getting answers to their questions and the opportunity to express their thoughts about the situation. Good dialouges are an education form to help staff in how they can go about talking to children about their need for information and support. It is an offer of conversations from a child rights perspective and the child always decides the content of the conversations.

Puzzle piece: Child-centered cooperation

When a child accompanies a parent to a shelter, a number of different actors with responsibility for the exercise of authority and support need to work together to ensure that the child's rights and needs are met. The collaboration model is about how different actors can work at placement, during placement and when moving out of the sheltered housing, based on the rights of the child and with the child in focus.

Piece of the puzzle: Violence conscious handling

Violence cases are a particular challenge for social services administrators. Those involved often state conflicting information based on their different perspectives and motives, the room for manoeuvre can be narrow and the statements and behavior of victims of violence can sometimes seem irrational based on trauma symptoms and hidden loyalties. Social workers with in-depth violence expertise are therefore important so that children can get appropriate interventions after living with domestic violence.
The training is aimed at social workers who handle matters where there is a need for protection and people in senior positions at the units where the social secretaries work. The purpose of the training is to increase competence, understanding and safety when it comes to handling these cases in order to achieve a safe, secure and knowledgeable treatment and ensure effective efforts for vulnerable children.

Puzzle piece: Play and activity

Children placed at shelters often have limited opportunities for leisure activities. By having trained volunteers and offering play and activities for children and young people in sheltered housing, the right to play and leisure according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child is made possible. The focus is to increase the child's well-being and recovery by creating positive experiences in an otherwise difficult everyday life. The puzzle piece also aims to counteract passivity and isolation and enables more children to have access to safe adults, positive role models and valuable experiences of positive interaction where the child can be in focus.

Download the Puzzel model description here (PDF)


EU flagHorizon 2020

This project was co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC 2014-2020) of the European Union.


About the Puzzle

About the Puzzle model

Children's voices

No violence, please!

Voices from sheltred housing

Children's right as relatives

Trauma conscious care

About the puzzle

Published articles Marie Cedershiöld University