Detailed program

9h30   A review of needs and profiles of unaccompanied minors as well as services and practices in Spain

  • Jorge F. del Valle, Amaia Bravo and Iriana Santos, GIFI Research Group, University of Oviedo

Spain has received a massive arrival of unaccompanied minors mostly from North Africa in the last ten years, but particularly in the last three years. Residential care is the most common service for them but many autonomous communities had to open a large number of new facilities for them. Addressing the needs of these young immigrants is one of the most serious challenges faced by our child welfare system.

In this presentation, we will show results from research reviewing practices in autonomous communities in Spain and also from interviews and focus groups with unaccompanied minors to analyse their specific needs. Some conclusions for matching services and needs will be presented as well as some good practices in services for unaccompanied minors.

10h15  Research into the development of unaccompanied minor refugees in foster care

  • Johan Vanderfaeillie, Lore Van Den Daele, Lenny Trogh & Frank Van Holen, Belgium

In Flanders, unaccompanied minor refugees (URM) are increasingly cared for in foster care. In 2017, 331 URM of 1920 (17.2%) stayed in a foster family; 74 in non-kinship foster families and 257 in kinship foster families. Non-kinship foster families are mostly autochthonous foster families, kinship foster families have the same cultural background. Although URM increasingly live in foster care, little is known on their development in foster care. In addition, the question can be asked if residing in foster families of the same culture is a protective factor. This study aimed at investigating the development of URM in kinship and non-kinship foster care and the association of positive development with foster child, foster parent and placement characteristics.

11h00  Coffee break

11h15  Negotiating the transition to adulthood: Separated young people’s experiences in the “Nord”, France.

  • Amy Stapleton, Paula Mayock, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

 Aged-out separated children (those who are outside their country of origin, without their parent or customary/ legal guardian and have recently turned eighteen) confront significant challenges as they navigate the transition to adulthood due to a lack of family support and because of their distinctly limited access to state support. It is imperative when developing new policies and attempting to resolve an issue as pressing as the displacement of people across Europe, that the contexts and concerns of those most affected are among the informing factors. Despite this, there is a lack of research on this highly marginalised youth population and their voices are rarely heard or considered.

Using qualitative research and a participatory action research (PAR) approach, the research includes separated young people’s voices and examines how they negotiate the transition to adulthood in two European countries, Ireland and France, respectively. Drawing from a youth transitions lens, the study seeks to understand the transition to adulthood in the larger social context, directing particular attention to the interplay of the individual (such as agency and resilience) and social/structural factors (child protection and immigration policies, institutional responses, etc.) which shape their experiences.

The paper will thus present preliminary findings of the research in the French context while highlighting the impact of structural and social constraints, including the care, reception and integration systems, on separated young people’s experiences of the transition to adulthood.

12h00  Lunch break

14h00  Unaccompanied minors in France, results from ELAP

  • Lucy Marquet, Lecturer and Demographic Researcher, CLERSE, University of Lille, Associate researcher, INED-RU06

In France, UAM may be taken into care by the child protection services and go into the system for asylum seekers, although this is much less common. In 2016, 8054 new UAM were taken into care by the child protection authorities and only 474 were processed as asylum seekers. As at end 2016, UAM represented 8% of minors in care. However, these figures do not include UAM who were not acknowledged as such by the child protection services.

The French child protection system is organized by department. Each of the 96 departments in Metropolitan France and the five overseas French departments finances and conducts its own child protection policy within the framework of the national legislation. The cost of care provision for UAM is thus the core issue, far ahead of the question of what support they are given.

14h45  Children, parents, migrants: categorizations and subjective perceptions of unaccompanied minors becoming parents

  • Claire Ganne, MCF, Univ. Paris-Nanterre, CREF, France

The migration of unaccompanied adolescents in Europe puts two logics of categorization of public policies under tension, highlighting the figure of the migrant to be controlled or the child to be protected, and the situations of unaccompanied minors or young adults becoming parents themselves blur these categorizations once again (Vervliet, De Mol, Broekaert, & Derluyn, 2014). As part of the ELAP research (Frechon & Marquet, 2016), 10 interviews were conducted with 6 young parents who had been taken into child protection care as unaccompanied minors (4 women and 2 men). The near-exclusivity between different statuses (child to be protected, young adult, mother with a child) highlights the institutional categorization processes relating to these situations, which do not always correspond to the subjective perception of the young people themselves.

15h30  Coffee break

16h00  Unaccompanied Minors in Denmark – Policy and Practice

  • Mette Lausten PR, VIVE – The Danish Centre for Social Science Research, Denmark

Historically, Denmark has been a liberal force in regards to asylum policy, being the first country to ratify and sign the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Since 1983, however, the Danish Aliens Act has been amended more than 100 times, from 2001 onwards nearly once every second month, thereby changing the image of Denmark from a liberal front-runner to a country with right-wing restrictive asylum policies. Asylum seeking children have not been unaffected by these changes.

Firstly, this presentation takes you through recent Danish history and the main features of the policy on unaccompanied minors, minors that are trapped between the tight immigration law and the more generous social democratic welfare state model, and secondly the results are shown from a project implemented in a municipal with the purpose to strengthen the integration of the unaccompanied minors into education, employment and leisure activities.

16h45  Accommodation, education, and wellbeing for unaccompanied refugee minors in high-income countries: findings from international systematic reviews and research in England

  • Ellie Ott, Research Fellow at the Rees Centre, Univ. of Oxford, UK

This presentation covers an overview of policy and practice with URMs in England, building on the author’s previous work and ongoing projects on concepts of ‘care’ and narratives of education for this population in England. One recent project on the education of URMs in England included semi-structured interviews (n=14) with social workers, virtual school heads, teachers, and third sector education providers, document analysis, and analysis of administrative data where available. Analyses indicate that some URMs in England receive education provision that does not meet their needs or statutory obligations while others receive tailored and thoughtful provision. Findings also indicate consensus among practitioners not only that unaccompanied refugee children have particular educational and accommodation needs tied with wellbeing, language acquisition, past trauma, and acculturation, but also that these young people demonstrate a marked resilience given their past histories.

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