Supporting integration of refugee and migrant children in host EU countries
Project is implemented in Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovak Republic
The war against Ukraine which started in February 2022 triggered one of the fastest-growing humanitarian emergencies in Europe in recent history. Within weeks, over six million people were displaced to neighbouring countries. The vast majority of the affected population are women and children, as well as older people and those with disabilities.
As a result of the war, a significant number of children from Ukraine are arriving in the EU without either of their parents or with an adult who has been formally assigned legal responsibility for them. The age range includes many unaccompanied and separated children, who are much younger than the teenagers who are typically seeking asylum in the EU. There is a large number of children with physical, emotional, psychological and educational special needs, who are coming from various forms of alternative care, particular, large-scale institutional care in Ukraine.
Many children may be travelling with adults who are not their parents. In these situations, it can prove difficult to identify these children as being separated from their primary caregivers and to mitigate risks. Many may have arrived without formal guardianship arrangements in place but may have a notarized authorization from both or one parent to travel with another adult. Moreover, as time passes, the arrangements put in place by a parent(s), which may have been envisaged to be temporary or limited in their scope, may also become unsustainable or inappropriate. Procedures need to be put in place to ensure that every child remains safe if they cross internal EU borders into states with different legal and child protection systems.
To support authorities and other stakeholders in EU countries hosting Ukrainian refugee children and their families and to strengthen mechanisms, system, services and infrastructure to better respond to the needs and rights of refugee and migrant children from Ukraine and other countries, Swiss State Secretariat for Migration SEM and UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia have designed an emergency project. This project is funded by the Swiss Government.
The project is targeting the most vulnerable children, in particular unaccompanied and separated children, children evacuated from institutions, children from vulnerable households, children with disabilities and other complex needs.
The project will be implemented in collaboration with national and sub-national authorities in 6 EU countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovak Republic).
The Overall Objective
Refugee and migrant children are integrated in the EU host countries national systems, have their needs timely assessed and met through an effective case management system and access to high-quality support, care and protection services.
To support the overall objective, 4 specific objectives are set:
- Strengthening infrastructures for migrants (accommodation)
- Supporting integration measures
- Strengthening assisted voluntary return and reintegration procedures
- Strengthening asylum procedures
Activities in Croatia
In Croatia, the project aims to ensure that the most vulnerable children from Ukraine and their caregivers, including unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), have access to integrated and high-quality child protection and family support services that enable prevention, early identification, referral and provision of services in accordance with the child’s best interest, thus ensure adequate international protection and child protection.
In addition, the project aims to ensure that UASC, including children from Ukraine, have access to family-based alternative care and integration measures, thus preventing placement in institutional care and enabling integration.
- Develop a high-quality curriculum and professional capacities for the implementation of professional training for professionals in the social welfare system, including family outreach workers, on supporting the most vulnerable children and their caregivers in migrations, including those from Ukraine and UASC. Strengthen professionals in the social welfare system, including family outreach workers to support the most vulnerable children and their caregivers from Ukraine, including UASC.
Develop a high-quality curriculum and professional capacities for identifying and supporting foster families providing services to UASC, including children from Ukraine as well as develop conditions for high-quality foster care and integration measures for UASC under temporary or other forms of international protection (asylum, subsidiary protection etc.)
The project will support migrant and refugee children, including unaccompanied and separated children, as well as groups of children evacuated from alternative care in Ukraine UASCs, their families and carers, as well as policy- and decision-makers and professionals working with this population.
In Croatia the project will support directly:
- 7.600 of the most vulnerable children in migration, including 7.100 children from Ukraine who reside in Croatia, as well as including 515 UASC
- 200 of the most vulnerable parents and caregivers from Ukraine who reside in Croatia
- 976 social service workforce, i.e., key frontline workers in the social welfare system, including family outreach workers, family assistants and foster parents providing service to UASC.
The project will also support indirectly:
- 17.080 children at risk, including 7.650 children and caregivers in migrations in Croatia
- 7.997 social service workforce workforce, i.e., key frontline workers in the social welfare system, including family outreach workers, family assistants and foster parents.
In all project countries UNICEF will work in partnership with national and local authorities, civil society implementing partners, service providers, social work and social service workforce professionals, children, carers, families and communities. At the regional level, UNICEF will continue working with UNHCR to further advocate for the child-specific focus in all interventions related to Ukrainian children-refugees.
In Croatia the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy (MLPSFSP) will help ensure implementation of the programme activities.
The Croatian Association of Social Workers (CASW) will be UNICEF’s implementing partner in the implementation of programme activities relating to integrated child protection services and interventions, including family outreach workers.
CSO Sirius and CSW Split will be UNICEF implementing partners in the implementation of programme activities relating to the development of foster care.
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