The majority of the 16 federated states do not have experience with providing foster care to UAMs. As an employee of a youth office explained, one of the main reasons for this is that reception in children’s homes is generally taken for granted; UAMs who live with their relatives in Germany are often the only exception to this.

A promising practice is that the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees (Bundesfachverband UMF) is aware of the situation and agrees that, if it is realized in a proper way through sufficient personal resources and facilities, foster care can be a very good chance for, and also support, refugee children.

However, the federated state of Niedersachsen and the city of Bremen both have promising practices of accommodating UAMs in host families since 2010/2011. The city of Pforzheim in Bavaria also has some practice.

The ‘Children in Exile’ project, which the organization Pflegekinder in Bremen (PiB) set up on accommodating UAMs in host families, started in 2010 and is paid for by the city of Bremen. Employees of PiB work closely together with the youth office in order to provide the most suitable family placement for UAMs. This resulted in 18 UAMs being successfully placed in a foster family in 2013 (compared to 550 German foster children in 440 families).

Most of these families are traditional German families. PiB is aiming to build up a pool with families from various cultural backgrounds in order to be able to provide suitable accommodation for all UAMs demonstrating a need. Foster families should have legal status, their own income and sufficient knowledge of German to be able to help the youth/child in everyday life. Foster families receive a guide, the ‘Small A-Z for PiB foster parents’ that has been specially written about unaccompanied minors and informs the families on important subjects relating to this target group.

Pflegekinder in Bremen, Kinder im Exil
+49 421 958820-44

Lower Saxonia
Jugendhilfe Süd-Niedersachsen (JSN), the association of youth offices in Süd-Niedersachsen, in Northeim started a project on accommodating UAMs in foster families in December 2011. In 2014, three social workers from JSN were working with 10 host families for UAMs. Girls and younger children always stay within families.

The recruitment process for foster families for the general foster care system is much longer than that for host families accommodating UAMs. One of the reasons for this is the fact that children in general youth care remain with the host families for a longer period. For the youngsters who claim to be UAMs, this period is often only 5 months because most of them are deemed to be over 18 after the age assessment process.

The requirements both for host families and for the organization and its employees have been laid down in a performance description. This contains the process UAMs undergo, basic requirements and the profile of host families (both German and multicultural families are being used), the way families are recruited, educated and assisted in their job, and what all this demands of JSN and the social workers responsible for the project.

Jugendhilfe-Süd-Niedersachsen (JSN)
Scharnhorstplatz 6, 37154 Northeim
+49 5551 9782 0

The city of Pforzheim in Bavaria has some UAMs living within families. The city has a very large Iraqi community, which is the reason for numerous requests from Jugendamt Karlsruhe (the youth office where the intake of refugees in the federated state of Baden-Württemberg occurs) on behalf of UAMs from Iraq who were taken into care in Karlsruhe and have relatives in Pforzheim.

The youth office in Pforzheim does a background check of families in these cases. If the outcome of the check is positive, the UAM minor can live with their relatives. The families do not function as foster families, though, as guardianship will be given to one of the adults of the family if they are approved (which is not the case in regular foster care, where foster carers do not have guardianship). When necessary, guidance of a social pedagogic worker from one of the family centres working with migrant families can be arranged. Social workers will help the UAM with education and associated issues whenever needed.