Project outputs

Materials developed through the Improving Justice in Child Contact project including briefings, reports and films.

Virtual events




Country briefings


Scotland: A child's experiences of child contact processes

‘A’ is a young woman supported by a Women's Aid group in Scotland; this briefing contains her words about how she experienced child contact court processes.

  • ‘A’ did not feel listened to when she was going through the court processes in Scotland. The court decided when and how she would communicate and spend time with a parent that she was not living with.
  • ‘A’ felt that she understood a lot more than the adults in the systems around her thought that she did.
  • ‘A’ felt that the court systems made assumptions about what was happening because they and the people in them operated with gendered stereotypes.

Romania: Our voices are heard and protected

Key messages:

  • Children should be given an opportunity to express their views and wishes on decisions that affect their lives.
  • The provision of victim protection and assistance services must take due account of the rights and needs of child witnesses of all forms of domestic or gender-based violence.
  • In determining the custody and visitation rights of children, incidents of violence covered by the Istanbul Convention, ratified by Romania, will be taken into account.
  • The exercise of any right of access or custody must not endanger the rights and safety of victims or children.
  • A child victim or child witness of violence against women and domestic violence should be offered special protective measures, taking into account the best interests of the child.

Portugal: Listening to children

Key messages:

  • Children want to be heard.
  • Children want spaces within the judicial system to be child-friendly and to help them feel secure.
  • Children want to understand decisions made in judicial procedures that concern them.
  • The profile of competencies of the professionals interacting with children during the judicial procedures is of utmost importance.

In this context, the role of ‘Super Listener’ is a crucial requisite.

Cyprus: Domestic abuse and impact on children

Key messages:

  • The issue of children living with intimate partner violence should be recognised as a matter for concern in its own right.
  • Children must be given the opportunity to express their views and wishes regarding decisions that affect their lives.
  • ‘Parental alienation’ should not be invoked to grant custody to a father accused of domestic violence disregarding the risks for the child.
  • The consequences of court-mandated contact with violent men can endanger the lives of women and their children.

Bulgaria: Methodology for empowering of child victims and witnesses of conflicts and violence in the family: through gathering relevant information for the views of children about those situations

Key message:

The children are highly intuitive, sensitive and share aspects of their emotionally painful and traumatic experiences. 

Collaborative working report and briefing

This collaborative report has been produced as part of the Improving Justice in Child Contact project. It sets out the findings and learning from the project in developing collaborative working practices across sectors. Such collaboration seeks to embed systemic change, in order to improve children’s rights in child contact processes and to protect children and women impacted by domestic violence.

Participation report and briefing (English only)

This Participation Report and its briefing have been produced by the Improving Justice in Child Contact project. They set out the findings and learning from the project in terms of involving children and young people in contested child contact, when they have experienced domestic abuse. The report concentrates on children and young people’s influence on policy and practice. 

Participation Toolkits

This toolkit has been produced as part of the Improving Justice in Child Contact project. It is aimed at women’s and/or children’s rights organisations across Europe wishing to undertake participation initiatives with children and young people relating to child contact and domestic violence.

Download the English version

Download the Greek version

Download the Portguese version

Download the Bulgarian version

Evaluation report (English only)

This report is an evaluation of the Improving Justice in Child Contact Project (IJCC) which took place from November 2018 to January 2021 as a partnership between organisations interested in women and children’s rights from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Portugal, Romania, and Scotland. IJCC was a European funded partnership project across five countries seeking to enhance children's participation in decision-making.

The project was evaluated using an approach based on contribution analysis. This report summarises the findings of the evaluation.


Podcasts and videos

Scotland's Social Services (IRISS) podcast has recorded an audio episode (in English) with the Scottish partners, Professor Kay Tisdall from the Childhood and Youth Studies Research Group at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Marsha Scott from the Scottish Women’s Aid about the Improving Justice in Child Contact (IJCC) and project.

> Listen to the IRISS podcast

The Romanian partner, CMSC, has recorded an audio podcast, My story of my hearing in Court, an interview with a 13-year-old young expert, Maria, describing her experience of the court process around child contact. This podcast, recorded in Romanian, is to accompany her blog  My story of my hearing in Court.

> Listen to how Maria narrates her story in My story of my hearing in Court

A senator in Romanian Parliament, Iulia Scantei, visited us on the CMSC meeting with Aurora Group (the Romanian version of Yello!) and talked with the girls in the group. ‘Maria’, the girl from this Aurora Group featured in the podcast 'My story of my hearing in Court'  and its  accompanying blog, agreed to attend an online webinar (audio only) organised the very next day and talked about her experience in the Court. The senator who is in the Judicial Committee of the Parliament promised that she would lobby for a change in hearing of minors from domestic violence cases. The recording of this webinar is  available HERE and has 28,000 views! The two-hour webinar entitled ‘Our voices are listened and protected!’ was prepared the night after the visit of the senator to CMSC.

Two weeks after the visit and after last week’s general election of Romania, Iulia Scantei was re-elected senator in the new Parliament. We will continue to work with her for the entire mandate, hopefully.

How do we listen to children in court? (podcast in Romanian only)

This podcast is about a teenage girl who wants judges to listen more carefully to children's stories after a divorce process. (Note: Maria is a pseudonym to protect her teenage identity.)

The article and podcast in Romanian can be found on Decat o Revista website national journal at

The podcast in Romanian can be listened to here: 

  • Podcast by Oana Sandu
  • Illustration by Loreta Isac
  • Reading time: 14 minutes
  • February 3, 2021
The Bulgarian partner, BGRF, has made a short podcast describing their work through the project to change the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence in Bulgaria.
> Listen to Elena Krasteva, a lawyer at the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, talk about the project success in Bulgaria (English language)
The Portuguese partners, CESIS and UMAR, have made a short film about their experiences of the IJCC project. UMAR have also designed a website with further information about their work on children's participation through the project.
Watch the Portuguese film: As crianças também têm que ser ouvidas (Subtitles currently available in Portuguese, soon to be available also in English)
> Visit UMAR's website dedicated to the IJCC project
Susana Pavlou, Director of our Cyprus partner, Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS), was interviewed by Magda Zenon, the host of Kaleid HER scope, a MYCY radio programme. Susana talked about ignoring intimate partner violence against women in the determination of child custody could have serious repercussion on the child.

> Listen to the podcast: In conversation with Susana Pavlou, Director of MIGS

Visit the IJCC's media channel to view further films connected to the project.

IJCC project-wide videos

Sue McKeller, Scottish Women’s Aid, recorded three videos (in English) with Professor Kay Tisdall, University of Edinburgh. Both of them are from the Scotland team of the IJCC project. 

  • Video 1 gives a general introduction to the project, and also raises the issues around domestic abuse and child contact, and the two participation models.
  • Video 2 introduces a case study to highlight that children are affected by domestic abuse and that child contact is an area of particular concern.
  • Video 4 aims to introduce to a wide audience the idea that children have rights (!), and views and can be supported to express these. The key message being highlighted is that 'it’s adults who need to change!'
  • In videos 3 and 5, Sue interviews Dawn Ross who is the Children's Rights Officer – Child Contact in West Lothian Council, Scotland.  Dawn provides detailed explanation of her role in order to help you use the Participation Toolkit we produced. They encourage people to use the project's Super Listener resources  as a checklist by those who work with children and young people. 
Video: IJCC project-wide videos
This playlist is composed of 5 videos produced by the Improving Justice in Child Contact (IJCC) project. It explores child contact decisions in families affected by domestic abuse. It is funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). Child contact is understood to be the systems and court processes which decide whether and how a child sees a parent that they are not living with. It is a partnership project across Bulgaria, Cyprus, Portugal, Romania and Scotland.

Power Up/Power Down (PU/PD)

About PU/PD

Power Up/Power Down was an exciting partnership project between Scottish Women’s Aid and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland. 

In 2016, 27 children and young people aged between 6 and 17 years old took part in a participatory project, Power Up/Power Down, supported by Glasgow Women’s Aid, Shakti Women’s Aid and East Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid. Throughout a series of sessions, they explored themes of power, children’s rights, making their voices heard in court, and how to improve the experience and outcomes for children affected by domestic abuse in family court actions relating to contact decisions.

Children and young people taking part were given an illustrated story about two children with experience of domestic abuse going through the family court system, based on real-life examples collected by Scottish Women’s Aid.  Through an exploration of the story in relation to children’s rights and concepts of power, the children and young people ‘rewrote’ the story to improve the outcomes for the children in it.

The resulting new story highlights key areas for positive change and identifies recommendations for making the system better for children and young people. These recommendations have been used to directly inform our policy and influencing work around court-ordered contact.

The stories of Power Up/Power Down, along with the background of the project, have also been compiled into a series of five videos.
The playlist below includes the five PU/PD videos.
Video: Power Up/Power Down stories and IJCC project background
This playlist includes videos of stories of Power Up/Power Down, along with the background of the IJCC project.

Policy responses

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women issued a call for submissions on the increase in domestic violence against women under COVID-19. In June 2020 the IJCC project contributed a response detailing some of the particular impacts of COVID-19 on domestic violence in the context of child custody/contact.
The Children (Scotland) Bill is legislation considered by the Scottish Parliament in 2019/2020 with aims including to ensure the views of the child are heard in contact and residence cases. In November 2019 IJCC project partners in Scotland contributed evidence to the Justice Committee scrutinising the Bill. In August 2020 IJCC project partners in Scotland provided a briefing for the final debate on the Bill.

> Read the evidence submitted by Scottish Women’s Aid

News coverage about the IJCC project

The IJCC project and partners have been working to raise awareness about the issues for children affected by domestic violence in terms of child contact:

Partner websites

Project partners have dedicated websites for the project