Alternative Care Training
Asylum Migration and Integration Fund
January 2020 – December 2021.
Background and aims
Between 2014 and 2017, some 219,575 so-called unaccompanied children aged between 15 and 18 came to the EU and Norway, seeking asylum.
These children risk violence, physical and sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking, with many arriving burdened and traumatised. The vast majority are placed in institutional reception centres. But experts agree that alternative care options like foster care are more beneficial to these children’s development, while also being more cost effective.
Italy has become the main entry point for unaccompanied children, with 45,000 children arriving by sea during the first nine months of 2018 alone. 11,170 unaccompanied children arrived in Spain during the same time period. Bulgaria, meanwhile, is an entry country for those travelling from Turkey. It is used as a transit country for many migrants and refugees wanting to reach Western Europe. In 2017, 440 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in Bulgaria, a significant decrease from 2,772 in 2016.
The Alternative Care Training or ACT project has set out to improve reception in alternative care arrangements being used for unaccompanied children (uac) aged 15-18 (in connection with guardianship), with a special focus on Bulgaria, Italy and Spain, the most popular entry points. More specifically, the project will provide tools for the training of professionals and practitioners in providing entrance to these arrangements to the target group. With the wide range of training on offer, the project will increase the skills of both guardians and care workers in the alternative care sphere. The training materials will be available online to interested parties, spreading the knowledge to an even wider audience. Finally, and most importantly, these measures are expected to help the children integrate more successfully into their new countries.
Child protection systems differ between EU countries so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The projectteam will therefore first look at access to and the quality of alternative care in the target countries of Bulgaria, Italy and Spain. This in-depth analysis will culminate in a report on the current state of play in each country complete with recommendations and an action plan.
A specialist training on both improving access for unaccompanied children to alternative care and boosting the quality of these services is lacking across the EU, tailor made training courses will be developed for specialist staff in the three target countries. An international training following a train the trainer model will also be on offer to professionals in other Member States.
The newly trained staff will then be in a position to themselves educate alternative care staff in their own countries, creating a snowball effect.
Both the train-the-trainer and the national trainings will be offered to local and regional youth care organisations and other specialised national bodies.