Child Protection for the Most Vulnerable Children and Families

13-16 June, 2022, Tallinn, Estonia


The local partner organizer is a network which consists of the:

The main duty of the Ministry of Justice is to plan and to carry out a legal and criminal policy of the state, which will help ensure an open and secure society, where people may be assured of the use and protection of their rights. It is the Ministry of Justice that coordinates the prevention of violence strategies in Estonia, including violence against children: sexual abuse and domestic violence involving children. The Ministry of Justice is part of the network of local organizers and is represented by Ms. Brit Tammiste (MA), the head of the organising committee of the ISPCAN 2022 advisor at the Criminal Policy Department, and Ms. Kaire Tamm, advisor at the Criminal Policy Department.

“We are proud that the ISPCAN Congress will take place in the Baltic region for the first time. It will be an excellent opportunity to showcase our experiences in the sphere of child protection, in relation to dealing with child abuse and neglect in Estonia as well as being the initiator of discussions on these matters on an international arena,” said Brit Tammiste. “Different digital solutions have an important role in the development of a country, as organizers we could introduce application opportunities from the perspective of child protection as well as organizing the Congress.”

Estonian Bar Association is a self-governing professional association acting on local government administration principles established on 14 June 1919 for the organization of the provision of legal service in private and public interest and defending of the professional rights of the attorneys. Estonian Bar Association assists the members of the Bar Association in their professional activity and performs surveillance, also looks out for the carrying on of the traditions of Estonian attorneys.

Among the rest the Bar Association organizes professional in service training of the attorneys, relations with the lawyers, state companies and several local and foreign organizations and actively participates in legislative drafting. The Bar Association also organizes the performing of the public law function – performing of defense and representation in civil and administrative matters for a fee payable by the state.  Since 1992 Estonian Bar Association is a member of the International Bar Association (IBA) and since 1 May 2004 a full member of a body uniting the bar associations of the member states of the European Union (CCBE).  The members of the Bar Association (advocates) include attorneys-at-law, senior assistants of attorney-at-law and assistants of attorney-at-law.
As of 01.09.2019 Estonian Bar Association has a total of 1056 members.

The Chancellor of Justice is an independent official whose duties are to ensure that the legislation valid in Estonia would be constitutional and that the fundamental rights and freedoms of our people would be protected. Since 19 March 2011, the Chancellor of Justice has performed the functions of the Ombudsman for Children in Estonia. To fulfil the tasks of the Ombudsman for Children, there is the Children’s and Youths’ Rights Department in the Office of the Chancellor of Justice which employs five persons. The Children´s and Youth Rights Department solves matters concerning the protection and promotion of children´s and youth rights that fall within the competence of the Chancellor of Justice.

Our job is to protect the rights of children and ensure that all those who make decisions affecting children are guided by children’s best interests and take into account the opinions of children. We help to make the voices of children heard by decisionmakers.

To be more specific, our tasks are:

Resolve complaints related to children’s rights in their relations with the individuals and authorities that perform public functions;
Verify whether the legal acts related to children’s rights are in the conformity with the constitution and laws;
Familiarize the society with children’s rights;
Impartially point out any existing child protection problems in the society;
Organize studies related to children’s rights;
Help start discussions on the topics important for children and youngsters in the society.

Our representative the Head of Children’s and Youth Rights Department Andres Aru has managed the work of the Children’s and Youths’ Rights Department since its creation in 2011. The prevention of child abuse and the protection of the most vulnerable children has been one of his priorities from the start. The Congress would offer a great platform for bringing the most vulnerable children to the spotlight and mapping existing problems in protecting them from child abuse and neglect. Estonia can learn from the experiences of other countries and thus keep improving the protection of the most vulnerable children in our society .

The field of activity of the Social Insurance Board is the organization of social protection and child protection.
The Barnahus (Children’s House) model is a child-friendly and multi-disciplinary service that we provide in order to help sexually abused children or children suspected of being sexually abused. Children’s houses are located in three parts of Estonia – North (Tallinn), South (Tartu) and East (Jõhvi). The first Children’s house was opened as a project in Tallinn on 2 January 2017 and as of 2018 the service is available to all children who are in need of assistance across Estonia.

The Barnahus model is a service whereby different specialists, such as child protection officials, the police, prosecutors, psychologists and many others work together to ensure the welfare of children. The Barnahus team assesses the child’s health, social situation and need for further assistance, carries out investigative operations necessary to resolve the case and offers the child the help he or she needs. Local authority’s child protection officials, parents and even children themselves can request the service. Likewise, a Children’s house may be contacted by any person or specialist who is concerned about a child’s sexual behavior.

Our representative the Head of Children’s House Anna Frank has managed the work on Children’s House since beginning (2016). She has worked over 10 years with sexually abused children, with children in institutional care, committed to improve skills for specialist who work with children (police, child protection specialist, teachers, coaches etc.) to ensure the well-being of children during the investigation, and for better communication with children, taken part in multidisciplinary network in child protection etc.

The Prosecutor’s Office is a government agency in the area of government of the Ministry of Justice. The Prosecutor’s Office is independent upon performance of its duties assigned by the law, and its actions are based on laws and on legal acts adopted on their basis. The Prosecutor’s Office directs pre-trial criminal proceedings, ensuring lawfulness and effectiveness thereof; represents public prosecution in court, participates in planning surveillance activities necessary for prevention and identification of crimes, and performs other duties assigned to the Prosecutor’s Office by the law.

As a body directing criminal proceedings, the Prosecutor’s Office guides investigative bodies in gathering evidence and, according to identified circumstances, decides on bringing charges against a person. The jurisdiction of the Office of the Prosecutor General is the entire Estonia; the jurisdictions of the district prosecutor’s offices are identical to those of prefectures. The Prosecutor’s Office is directed by the Prosecutor General who is appointed to office for a term of five years. State Prosecutor Karin Talviste’s principal tasks at the Prosecutor’s Office include curation of the fields of criminal proceedings related to minors and domestic violence. This means that Ms. Talviste is responsible for harmonization of procedural practice and principles in these fields nation-wide as well as for development of new solutions to render relevant proceedings more efficient. Ms. Talviste sees it as her personal mission to make sure less and less children are forced to grow up surrounded by violence, paying a high price for the sins of their parents. Furthermore, Ms. Talviste has taken it upon herself in the Prosecutor’s Office to ensure that the rights of victims in criminal proceedings are guaranteed even more effectively, regardless of which type of crime the person was victimized by. Hosting ISPCAN 2022 in Estonia will hopefully provide an excellent opportunity to bring world-wide experience right to our own front door.

Helen Saarnik is a project manager in Estonian Union for Child Welfare (EUCW) and her main responsibilities has been coordinating national and international projects (Erasmus+, The Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme – European Commission), advocacy work, fundraising and counselling. Her specific field is children in alternative care and since 2019 she is a member of Eurochild CiAC group  (Thematic Working Group – Children in Alternative Care). Helen is also a PhD student and a junior researcher in Tallinn University, School of Governance, Law and Society.

“It is important to organize such international conferences as IPSCAN to bring together national governments and policy practitioners, professionals from different disciplines, researchers and the international community to explore the arguments and share the experiences in the sphere of child protection. International events help to start discussions on the topics important for children and the youth in the society and ensure that different stakeholders and professionals would respect children’s rights and would have only the best interests of children in mind when making decisions regarding them.”

Child Support Centre for Abused Children (Tartu Laste Tugikeskus) was establised as NGO in 1995, and used to be the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. Its mission is to prevent and stop violence in Estonia by raising community awareness and training professionals; and in daily work helping abused children and their family members.

Tartu Child Support Center has acted as as a coordination center of national mental health program, of Children at Risk in Baltic Sea Region. Tartu Child Support Centre represents ECPAT International in Estonia. The first Head of Tartu Child Support Center Ruth Soonets used to be an ISPCAN board councilor. Our representative in the current event – Lemme Haldre used to act as the regional coordinator of of International Training Project of ISPCAN (ITPI), involving Belarus, St Petersburg, Georgia, Estonia. Additionally our specialists have held several training seminars in Russia ja Belorus, Moldova, Kyrgysztan etc.

Our representative psychotherapist and child psychologist Lemme Haldre has worked with abused children, traumatized minors, with children in institutional care, committed to provide skills for better parenting, taken part in multidisiplinary network in child protection.