This message is mainly for readers in England, but its message applies to many other countries.
Child care now has important international components, some relating to the problems which children and young people face, and some concerning ways of dealing with them.
There are immigrant children – and in particular, unaccompanied minors – who require help.
There are children from other countries exploited through prostitution, under age employment or involvement in other illegal activities.
- There is abuse of children in other countries by sex tourists.
- There is internet abuse, which involves world-wide networks.
- There are ideas being imported from other countries, such as social pedagogy.
- Workers are being recruited from other countries, especially continental Europe.
- Finance is available, in particular through the EU, for international projects involving partners in different European countries.
- Many child care workers work abroad, whether voluntary or paid, sharing ideas from the UK and learning about other countries’ ways of working.
There are many reasons, then, why people working with children and young people should watch what is going on elsewhere around the world.
One of the main international professional organisations for people working with children and young people is FICE (pronounced fee-say), which was founded in 1948 by UNESCO. It has National Sections in about thirty countries, mainly in Europe.
FICE offers opportunities for networking. It has a Congress every two years, the next being in 2008 in Helsinki, and these are usually attended by about 500 people from about fifty countries. Representatives of the National Sections also meet twice yearly in different countries, not only to deal with FICE’s business in the Federal Council but also to hold international seminars and visit services for children.
England had a FICE National Section from the early 1950s, but for the last couple of years, there has been no formal representation of this country, though Scotland is a member.
The National Children’s Bureau recently took up Associate Membership with a view to NCERCC acting as the FICE National Section for England. If this bid is to succeed, FICE-England will need a core group of members who are prepared to invest some time in participating by attending Congresses and other meetings and in establishing a programme of activities in this country.
Historically, this country has played a relatively minor role on the international scene, but interest is growing, and membership of FICE provides an opportunity to join a ready-made network. Would you like to take part? If so, see the article FICE : Questions and Answers in this issue.