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The National Child Helpline goes 24 hours of service a day starting June 1st 2019!

Last updated one year ago

The National Child Helpline goes 24 hours of service a day starting June 1st 2019!

Thanks to the support C-SEMA received from UNICEF Tanzania Country Office, the National Child Helpline (CHL) Tanzania Mainland has officially moved to a 24/7 service. This means the contact centre in Dar es salaam will now be operating 24 hours. In line with this 24-hour service provision, the social workers who are the primary contact of referral for the helpline, were trained to support the service. This will help have a pool of referral contact persons who will work to support the 24 hours service. 

Currently there are four volunteer counsellors and one supervisor (team leader) working in 3 shifts in a 24 hours cycle. There are also buffer counsellors who support the deployed team when the need arises due to sickness or any other reason.

Before deployment at the call centre the volunteer counsellors are trained on counselling crisis calls. This is a three days or five days training coordinated by C-Sema and facilitated by CHL Manager (Mainland), CHL Supervisors and CHL team leaders. The main objective of the training is usually to provide crisis counselling knowledge to CHL volunteer counselors and interns. This is to ensure effective telephone counselling to children and their families but also to make sure volunteers and interns are aware of the services offered by the helpline. The training has six sessions in which eleven important topics are covered including; brief organization history & Understanding C-Sema’s child protection policy, Volunteerism, Interviewing & Problem-Solving Skills, Counselling Crisis Calls, Nutrition, Child development, Positive Discipline and Skillful parenting, HIV/AIDS counseling, Vulnerability in children, disability inclusion, Role play and Child abuse and reporting mechanism.

To ensure further support from all government agencies in this 24 hours service, C-Sema organised a national strategic stakeholders meeting in Morogoro that brought together key government institutions and ministry departments with the objective to discuss the role of the National Child Helpline in the child protection system in Tanzania and propose the best way forward. Another key objective was to review the MoU between C-SEMA and the ministry of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.

The Morogoro meeting was officiated by Mr. Kiiya JK, C-Sema Chief Executive who gave welcome remarks inviting all the participants to the meeting that will discuss about the CHL and its function ability and how to improve the services at the call center. During the meeting Mr Kiiya JK gave a brief history about C-Sema and 116 and the reasons for gathering as well as what is expected from the meeting. He invited the key partners to give their presentation on the way they have been collaborating with the National Child Helpline and the areas for improvement.This government stakeholders meeting was attended by the following key Ministries Departments Agencies (MDAs) of the Tanzania governmet.

President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG). The law of child Act section 95 requires every citizen who receive or witness any kind of violence and child abuse to report and has hold them responsible and accountable under the law if they will fail to do so. The Law of child act in section 94 gives the (Local Government Agencies (LGAs) and specifically, the social welfare officer at LGA, the roles and mandate to safeguard children, hence 116 aids in implementation of this law.

Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA). This is the government agency responsible for communication in Tanzania. It is key to the helpline service for it ensures that all telephone companies give access to the helpline number 116, free of cost.

Regional Office for Social Welfare. Regional representatives of Social Welfare Officers from three regions from Dar es Salam, Morogoro and Iringa gave a joint presentation on how 116 is being used in their regions, challenges and recommendation on how to overcome the challenges. Please note that the child helplinerely on the services of the social welfare officers throughout the country to ensure children calling the helpline receive timely services as per section 94 of the Law of the Child Act.

In their presentation they said have used the number several times to reach other social welfare in other regions 116 has played as a bridge when it comes to child protection issues, also they have use their forums in awareness creation on the use of 116 but also they have put 116  posters in some schools, Hospitals, local government officers from the ward to the Districts, since the community need to be aware of the number however the posters were not enough.

The police Gender and children desk. The police department of through its Gender and Children Desks services is the helpline’s primary contact in terms of criminal emergencies such as sexual abuse, etc.

The new management information system forThe Child Helpline in Mainland and Zanzibar. The introduction of the new helpline management information system (MIS) with capabilities of data storage - onsite and remotely, report generation, use of softphones as opposed to physical phones, supervision enhancement to helpline management and system administrator’s dash body. The system gives the ministry responsible for children services access the helpline data through a server was placed at the ministry’s server room to keep track and record of information received at the helpline. 

It is important to note that the Child Helpline MIS strengthening was supported by UNICEF ESARO and UNICEF Tanzania Country Office. As part of the upgrading of the 2 contact centres the Zanzibar contact Centre purchased the following equipment SSD Hard drive: Also known as ‘Solid State Drive’. SSD were purchased for helpline’s backup data storage. The devices support reading and writing data and maintains stored data in a permanent state even without power. Upon connection to a computer system all stored data can be accessed and retrieved. This way we are sure to have multiple data backups for the helpline besides the data stored at the call centre and government’s servers.

1. New Hasee Laptop Computers: The setup for Zanzibar office required purchase of 3 new laptops for data manager, call centre manager and one for helpline’s supervisors. All purchased laptops are in good conditions and in good use.

2. SIP Phone Licenses: Originally this was required for the Panasonic PBX (calls receiver). However, with the ESARO’s investment into soft PBX – we used the funds to purchase routers and related equipment to support Zanzibar call centre’s VPN system. The VPN system currently under implementation guarantees 100% call receivership and improved the quality of service by the call centre. It also replicates the mainland’s success to Zanzibar with no additional costs.

The equipment purchased have improved call handling at the call centre from physical phone to use of soft phones and improved counselor – client relationship by allowing the counselor to have enough hands-free time to attend to clients who call the child helpline in Zanzibar. The equipment also includes a dash board where all call centre activity is broadcasted in terms of contacts received.

Going 24-hours also meant expansion of our child online protection. We started off by training of front-line service providers to respond to online cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. The general objective here was to have effective involvement of the Tanzania police force in combating OCSEA and COP. Also, the workshop aimed at reinforce a good working relationship between Police Gender and children desk and the Forensic -Cybercrime department in combating OCSEA but also to create awareness. A total of 25 frontline service providers were trained on handling and referring cases of child online sexual abuse and exploitation. 20 were police officers form police headquarters. The 20 police officers came from the Cybercrime unit and the gender and Children’s desk. 5 social welfare officers from were also trained. (3 from Dar es salaam, 1 form Iringa and 1 from Morogoro Region.) After the Government of Tanzania signed the We Protect Global Alliance, several trainings have been done to different key stakeholders on OCSEA of which police were represented with just two or three people henceforth there was a need to include them more and to have a fully representation from Cybercrime department since this is a crime that is majorly done online.

Lastly, we developed a training manual for the Childline Zanzibar. This was a two in one activity conducted for six days. The first three days was about a consultative workshop to develop a training manual for the child helpline staff in Zanzibar. The workshop brought together a team of 15 experts including Lawyers, the Justice System (Police Gender & Children’s Desk), Department of Women & Children, Department of Elderly & Social Welfare, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health (One Stope Center) and the Helpline team from Mainland and Zanzibar. The experts reviewed and contextualized the Mainland CHL Crisis Counselling Training Manual in to Zanzibar context.

The last three days involved training of 22 counselors including those currently designated and volunteering at the helpline and those graduates and students from social work, psychology, teaching and counseling background willing to avail their ample time to volunteer with the helpline. The training was facilitated by Ms. Thelma Dhaje (Helpline Manager-Mainland) and Ms. Fatuma Ahmad (Helpline Manager-Zanzibar) with the support from Mohammed Jabir Makame (the Women and children’s development Coordinator) at the Ministry of Labor, Empowerment, Elders, Women and Children. 

This story was compiled by the helpline management teams in Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania.