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FORUM – For Unaccompanied Minors - transfer of knowledge for professionals to increase foster care

logo 1The project FORUM – For Unaccompanied Minors - transfer of knowledge for professionals to increase foster care was co-funded by the Directorate General Justice and Consumers of the European Commission under the Programme Justice REC – Rights of the Child-Violence against Children (REC-CHILD-AG-2016), which aims to promote and protect equality and the rights of persons, and in particular to promote nondiscrimination and the rights of the child.

The FORUM project responds to the European Commission priority to ensure better protection and respect for the rights of all children in migration on EU territory through the development of a quality foster care service system promoting the exchange of expertise from country where foster care is already developed toward countries where the foster care provision is still limited.

 

In recent years, the number of children reaching EU Member States has increased and many of them are arriving unaccompanied.

 

The existing European Union policies and legislation provide a wide framework for the protection of the rights of children in migration but the recent surge of arriving migrant children have exposed gaps and shortcomings in protecting their rights and the need for target actions to better protect children in migration has been highlighted.

 

The project is implemented within the EU recent policies and legislation framework for the protection of the rights of the child in migration: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – The protection of children in migration (2017); the Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors (2010-2014); The European Agenda on Migration; the Commission Recommendation “Investing in Children: Breaking the cycle of Disadvantages” (2013).

 

The 10th European Forum on the rights of the child: the protection of children in migration have underlined the need for targeted actions to better protect children in migration.

 

The action is shaped around the concept of best interest of child which means that all the activities will contribute to guarantee full and effective enjoyment of all the rights as well as the holistic development of the child, including physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

 

Because of Unaccompanied Migrant Children status and degree of vulnerability, child reception must be addressed taking into account that they need a legal guardian firstly and special care and attention secondly. Too often, range of solutions in project target countries - where the empowerment of legal guardian is still left behind - is limited to residential care without considering, as priority, the best interests of the child. Moreover, in these target countries, many of the key stakeholders do not consider Unaccompanied Migrant Children as being children before being migrants.

 

Countries have been thus selected based on the number of Unaccompanied Migrant Children, on their experience on foster care and on the lack of practices on foster care. Based on the Report “Reception and Living in families. Overview of family based reception for Unaccompanied Minors in the EU member States", the following targeted countries have been selected:

 

  • Countries with high percentage of Unaccompanied Migrant Children claiming for asylum (Italy, Hungary and Austria)
  • Transiting countries who are expected to increase the number of Unaccompanied Migrant Children or welcoming them through relocation policies (Slovenia, Hungary and Czech Republic)
  • Partner from countries with experience in foster care for Unaccompanied Migrant Children (UK)
  • Partner from countries with large number of migrant children in residential care (Spain)
  • Partner with great expertise in advocacy who can channel project outcomes through EU member
  • States (EUROCHILD, Belgium).

 

The project is built on three pillars: Advocacy, Transfer of Knowledge and Capacity building.

 

  • Advocacy at local, national and European level aims at raising awareness and promoting foster care benefits not only for Unaccompanied Migrant Children but for the whole reception system.

 

In order to initiate foster care programs, key stakeholders from public and private sector managing reception system need to understand the potential benefits and risks of foster care.

 

The partner EUROCHILD has designed a toolkit to assist child rights advocates and other professionals in influencing the governments at national, regional and local level, to promote the development of better care services for unaccompanied and separated migrant children in the EU. The toolkit can be downloaded at FORUM Website: https://forum-project.alberodellavita.org/materials/

 

  • Transfer of knowledge is meant from associations with sound experience in foster care toward associations with minor experience; the project has elaborated a guidance on minimum standard to be adapted at the national context through national standards for foster care services.

 

  • Capacity building of professionals dealing with migration and child protection is crucial to extend good practices and standards to a wide range of key actors.

 

Within this framework, in collaboration with the partners, the project has worked to raise awareness of key stakeholders about the benefits of foster care in alternative of reception centers for the care of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and it has developed a training package and standards in line with European best practices to enhance the capacity of professional to ensure and provide a quality foster care service.

 

The partnership

 

The project is coordinated by Fondazione L’Albero della Vita and implemented in partnership with European relevant organizations committed to improve the protection and reception of migrants and Unaccompanied Migrant Children: Accem (Spain), Organization for Aid to Refugees OPU (Czech Republic), Family Child Youth Association FCYA (Hungary), FICE – International Federation of Educative Communities (Austria), and Slovenska Filantropija (Slovenia).

 

Fondazione L’Albero della Vita was funded in Italy in April 1997 and since its foundation, Fondazione L’Albero della Vita has committed itself to promote effective actions aiming at ensuring well-being, protecting and promoting rights, encouraging the development of children, their families and the communities to which they belong, both in Italy and in the world.

 

Accem: Accem is an NGO which works in promoting the defense of fundamental rights, the support and accompaniment of persons at risk of social exclusion, with a focus on asylum and migrations.

 

FICE Austria: FICE Austria is the national section of FICE-International. The vision is to create networks across continents worldwide to support actions and all those working with at-risk children, children with special needs and children and young people in out-of-home care. All activities aim to respect the personality, interests and needs of the child or the young person.

 

Organization for Aid to Refugees (OPU) has been helping refugees and foreigners in the Czech Republic for 25 years. OPU’s main activities include providing free legal and social counselling to applicants for international protection and to other foreigners in the Czech Republic, organizing training programs for both professionals and the general public, and other activities aimed at promoting integration of foreigners.

 

Slovenska filantropija is a non-governmental and humanitarian organization operating in public interest since 1992. Its programs are aimed at increasing the quality of life in the community and advocacy for the disadvantaged. Various activities are combined in program units Migrations, Volunteering, Intergenerational cooperation, Promotion of health, International and development cooperation. Areas of work of the Migration unit are psychosocial, integration, legal and learning assistance, leisure activities, awareness raising and advocacy for the rights of unaccompanied and separated children, asylum-seekers, persons with international protection and other migrants.

 

FCYA - Family, Child, Youth Association is a non-profit organization established in 1993 in Hungary. It aims to support the protection of children and strengthen families by fortifying, training and providing services to helping professionals. The association is also involved in numerous international research and training programs, it takes part to prestigious national and international conferences.

 

The Expert Partner are:

 

CORAM (UK): an NGO with great experience in foster care and providing care and support for migrant children. It runs expert group’s activities.

 

Fondazione ISMU: is one the most influencing research center on migration in Italy and Europe. It is member of the expert group.

 

EUROCHILD: is an advocacy network of organizations who promote the well-being of children. It supports the applicant in the advocacy activities and dissemination of project findings and results.

 

The Expert Group is composed of:

 

Kamena Dorling, from CORAM CHILDREN LEGAL CENTER LBG – CORAM Intls(UK), a NGO with a great experience in foster care and providing care and support for migrant children;

 

Giulio Giovanni Valtolina and Nicoletta Pavesi, from ISMU –Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità, one of the most influencing research center on migration (Italy);

 

Dr. Maria Herzog, expert on foster care (Hungary);

 

and Dr. Muireean Ní Raghallaigh, Lecturer in Social Work, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, from University College Dublin ( Ireland), author of one of the most relevant study on foster care system for Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Ireland.

 

Partners have been involved in collecting the training needs of the stakeholders in their countries and they contributed to finalize the content of the different components of the training package.

 

The package is divided in two parts: the PART I focuses on the project context, the presentation of the Shortlist on good practices and the Guidance on Minimum Standards; the PART II has its focus on the Training Programme to be developed in the different countries.

 

More information about the project and document to be downloaded on:

https://forum-project.alberodellavita.org/