EU: Care for migrant children in mainstream child protection systems

Immigration detention of children is unlawful according to international law and States are obliged to implement alternatives to detention. One of the best solutions for unaccompanied children is their placement into mainstream child protection systems, which already works well in some countries in the EU, an ICJ webinar was told.

During the webinar on Placement of unaccompanied migrant children in mainstream child protection systems in the EU, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and partners discussed good practices as well as shortcomings from the view point of national and regional administrations. Speakers from Bulgaria and Italy presented their national or regional systems of care for migrant children.

Cooperation between child-protection and immigration authorities in Bulgaria was discussed, as the Bulgarian law does not prohibit immigration detention of children and a number of children remain detained in practice. However, there are channels to refer migrant children to child-protection services or place them in foster families. Children are also informed of their rights from the earliest moments, and some are accommodated in open safe zones.

According to the law in Italy, children can never been detained in the immigration context. The law was published in 2017 and is based on international legal standards. In the region of Bolzano in Italy, unaccompanied migrant children are immediately placed with child protection services and have the same access to rights and care as national children. In the first level of the care system, the children’s specific needs and vulnerabilities are addressed, while in the second level, children are already integrated in the mainstream system of child protection.

Voluntary guardians in Italy were also discussed, as well as access to legal representation in Bulgaria, and the risk of children’s disappearance from the system when the services provided do not match their needs.

It was also noted that unaccompanied or separated refugee children from Ukraine, who will be receiving temporary protection under the recently activated Temporary Protection Directive, may also receive relevant care in mainstream child protection systems, which may equip a number of countries to test the feasibility of such inclusion.

The webinar took place as part of the CADRE project (Children’s Alternatives to Detention protecting their Rights in Europe) seeking to promote the expansion, implementation and improvement of viable and effective alternatives to detention for migrant children in full respect of their rights in the European Union.

Please see the agenda of the event here.

You can watch the recording of the webinar here:

AgendasEventsNewsVideo clipsWeb stories