In Europe, the majority of unaccompanied children are placed in institutional reception facilities. The Reception and Living in Families (RLF) project that Nidos and partners carried out in 2013-2015 revealed that this mostly occurred for practical reasons where youth care and asylum/migration systems mismatched. There was insufficient knowledge on how to increase the quality and quantity of family care for this target group. Good practices do not reach beyond the local level where they are developed. And financial and organisational structures do not explicitly support the development of alternative family care.

All countries that provide RLF reported a need for training material specifically developed for social workers, reception professionals or – sometimes – guardians who are responsible for counseling host families that take care of unaccompanied children. These professionals were in need of tools and specialised training on how to work with this group of children and their host families. Working with these children does not only mean dealing with different backgrounds and different languages, but also concerns issues like the effects of living in between cultures and coping with trauma or loss. Preparing host families on these themes can improve the care provided and decrease the risk of breakdowns.

Project results

Within the ALFACA-project, Nidos (the Netherlands) in cooperation with Minor-Ndako (Belgium), Jugendhilfe Süd-Niedersachsen (Germany), OPU (Czech Republic), the Danish Red Cross and KIJA (Austria) developed training for professionals working with host families that take care of unaccompanied children.

The training consists of e-learning and a manual that provide participants with general knowledge on working with this target group and knowledge on recruitment, screening, matching and guidance of the host families. Both the training and the manual, as well as additional information and tools, can be found on this website.

The ALFACA project was implemented from 1 October 2015 to 1 April 2017 and the project was co-funded by the European Commission.

The goal of the project was to further develop and improve the reception of unaccompanied children in families by providing professionals with the tools needed for this and teaching them how to use these tools. A train-the-trainer session for professionals from member states was held in the Netherlands on 28-30 November 2016.


A manual has been developed for professionals working with reception families and the unaccompanied children living with them. It may be useful to different kinds of practitioners, depending on the country they work in and the childcare system in operation there. The manual could therefore be used by guardians (professional, semi-professional or voluntary), social workers, mentors, staff at reception facilities, behavioural scientists, psychologists or any other professional responsible for the reception of unaccompanied children in families.

The ALFACA manual contains all the basic information regarding working with reception families who take care of unaccompanied children. The most important tools are available in its appendix, whereas other useful tools can be found on this website. E-learning gives the user the opportunity to practise with the information provided in the manual. Those who want to deepen their knowledge should look at the extra literature provided on the website.

Country specific annexes to the ALFACA Manual

Under the PROFUCE project, country specific separate annexes to the ALFACA Manual have been developed for Bulgaria, Greece and Italy. These annexes can be found below the Manual in the language of the particular country. These annexes aim to support further implementation of family based care in these countries.

Nidos partnered in the PROFUCE project from November 2017 to October 2019. This EU co-funded project coordinated by Istituto degli Innocenti (Italy) was a cooperation with six partners: The municipality of Florence (Italy), the municipality of Vicenza (Italy), METAdrasi-Action for Migration and Development (Greece), National Foster Care Association (Bulgaria), New Bulgarian University-The Know How Centre (KHC) (Bulgaria) and Stichting Nidos (The Netherlands). “PROFUCE” is the acronym for “Promoting Foster Care for Unaccompanied Children in Europe”. The general goal of the project was to build social services’ capacity and awareness to promote a high quality system supporting foster families for unaccompanied children.

Contact details

Marjolein Groen
Project Manager Nidos
Phone: +31 (0) 6 574 93 994