The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation launched Cambodia’s first child protection information management system (CPIMS) and made its dashboard publicly available on June 25, as a report finds 59 per cent fewer children in residential care than five years ago.

The CPIMS dashboard – developed with the support of UNICEF, USAID and other partners – will enable ministries, service providers, development agencies, NGOs and advocates to see Cambodia’s progress in child protection service delivery at any time, providing data which can further guide policy setting and action.

Social affairs ministry spokesman Touch Channy told The Post on June 27 that this system was set up because many different ministries and institutions have implemented child protection services – such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs – and the data related to child protection was not gathered in one place previously, but stored with many different ministries.

“This new database system will be under the control of the Ministry of Social Affairs. The child protection data will be in only one system, with support from development partners, even though the other ministries are working on the child protection.

“We control the system. The database will be located at our ministry. When other ministries have data about child protection, they have to send it in to us via the CPIMS dashboard system and the Ministry of Social Affairs is in charge of the CPIMS,” Channy said.

A joint press release of the social affairs ministry and UNICEF on June 25 said that the CPIMS will measure progress in child protection against 50 key indicators. It includes information such as the number of residential care institutions in the country, the support currently available and the number of children receiving services.

“Such information is essential to the development of an effective child protection system, while the digitalisation of the data will make it more accessible and timely,” the press release said.

The launch of the dashboard is the culmination of three years of work involving 14 government ministries and agencies alongside two networks of NGOs. All of these institutions worked together to develop the monitoring framework and collect and validate the data presented through the dashboard.

“The Ministry also thanks UNICEF for its technical guidance and USAID for its financial support, enabling us to digitise and improve Cambodia’s child protection information system,” the release said.

On June 25, the ministry also launched a report on its ambitious 5-year action plan for improving childcare, with its target of safely returning 30 per cent of children in residential care to their families.

When the action plan was launched in 2016, residential care for children was widespread and far too many children lived in residential care even though most of them had at least one living parent.

Inspired by the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s guiding principle that every child has the right to grow up in a family, the Cambodian government, UNICEF and other partners developed an action plan to reintegrate children in a safe manner from residential institutions into family-based care, support family preservation and promote alternatives to residential care, said the press release.

“Other key partners included USAID, EU, the Partnership Programme for Protection of Children and Family Care First. The report found that since the action plan was launched in 2016, there are 43 per cent fewer residential care institutions and 59 per cent fewer children living in residential care,” it said.

The new CIPMS dashboard will be a powerful tool in developing and improving such policies and services, UNICEF representative to Cambodia Foroogh Foyouzat said in the press release.

“This progress is truly heartening, because the nurturing and protective care of families is so important to the wellbeing of children.

“However, there is still much work to do to ensure full implementation of family-centered policies and provision of family support services to further empower parents in caring for and protecting their children,” she said.