This part of the toolkit provides you with information on how the integration of unaccompanied children with a permit to stay is currently organised in different EU member states.
Under the Integration Act, unaccompanied children or young persons who have been issued with a residence permit, and who have been admitted to Finland under a refugee quota, should be given care, attention and an upbringing in a way that responds to their needs. The required services may be organised in family group homes, using supported family placement or in another appropriate manner.
The municipality where a young immigrant lives is responsible for supporting them and organising the services they need. As municipal residents, these children or young people have the right to access all services available to other residents of the municipality.
Unaccompanied children or young people may be provided with support measures until they reach the age of 21 or until a guardian is appointed for them in Finland. The same services can be offered to children and young people as to those in aftercare as referred to in the Child Welfare Act.
General information for guardians of unaccompanied children and young people in the integration phase can be found in the Handbook for Guardians published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Labour in Finnish.
After the unaccompanied child is granted a residence permit in Denmark, the municipality where the child is placed is responsible for them and all applicable services available to them. It is the Danish Immigration Service who decides in which municipality the child will be placed. During the asylum procedure, the child is asked where they would like to live. This preference could, for example, be because the child has family, friends or another interest in that specific municipality.
The unaccompanied child is normally placed in a home with other children, which will be operated either by a private provider or by the municipality itself. In some cases, the child goes to live in an apartment where staff from the municipality help them with daily tasks and commitments.
A guardian appointed for an unaccompanied child will be located somewhere near to where the child is placed, in one of the Danish asylum facilities. Many children change their guardian at some point, if they are placed in a municipality which is too far away from their first guardian.
An unaccompanied child or young person is eligible for aftercare until he or she turns 23, as long as certain criteria and conditions are met.
A number of laws are applicable to the integration of unaccompanied children in Denmark: the Integration Act, the Social Services Act, the Parental Responsibility Act and the Executive Order on primary schools teaching “Danish as a second language”.
The former Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration developed a handbook which describes in detail how adequate reception of the unaccompanied child can take place. It is only available in Danish.
Another document that gives support to guardians was developed by the Danish State Administration in the form of a pamphlet, available in Danish, which describes what guardianship entails.
In 2016, the Danish Red Cross hosted a conference on how to offer the best reception to unaccompanied children. Results and best practices from the conference are available in Danish here.
Training and tools
Tool: model for an integration plan
A Finnish model for an integration plan form for unaccompanied children is available in English and in Finnish. The guardian is present at the meeting where an integration plan is drafted. The model form is provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
Tool: handbook on guardianship for unaccompanied children in the integration phase (in Danish)
This handbook is a tool which can be used as an introduction to a guardian’s work in the integration phase. It provides examples of how the work is carried out by volunteer guardians. Interviews with different professionals working in areas relevant to the guardian in the integration phase are also included. The handbook describes the roles and responsibilities of the guardian, and introduces other organisations who the guardian will be cooperating with in their work.
You can find the handbook here.
Tool: best possible reception of unaccompanied children in municipalities (in Danish)
This tool provides information on how a child moving to a new municipality can be given the best possible reception. The information is intended for the municipalities who provide reception for unaccompanied children, focusing on the primary themes for case workers in the municipality. It describes the effect that moving from the asylum phase to the integration phase has on a child. For guardians, and other professionals working with unaccompanied children, this booklet describes best practices for successful initial integration of the child. It also mentions the laws relevant to the child’s reception, and gives a list of the ten most important things to keep in mind when the child moves to the municipality. You can find the tool here.
General points for attention regarding the integration of unaccompanied children at Nidos are the following:
- search for role models (from the child’s own culture or with a similar background) in the child’s network;
- getting to know the new society and culture should proceed at the child’s pace;
- the child should be supported in finding their way into education or work that is realistic and matches the child’s future prospects;
- participation in the new society is part of the guidance;
- if desired, contact with compatriots is part of the child’s life.
Nidos and the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) have jointly drawn up a handbook (in Dutch) to ensure a good transfer of unaccompanied children when they reach the age of 18. The aim is to ensure continuity in the areas of housing, income, work/training, social network and, if necessary, guidance. The handbook refers to children who have been granted a residence permit. Core information in the handbook is:
- the municipality is responsible for housing and possible guidance from the age of 18
- Nidos supervises the search for suitable accommodation in the months before the child turns 18
- a preparatory meeting when the young person is 17.5 and a ‘warm’ transfer when they turn 18
- the municipality and Nidos make local process agreements
- regular consultation between the municipality and Nidos for monitoring both the process and individual cases.
‘Transcultural Trust: Supporting transcultural belonging among unaccompanied children and young people‘ aims to study the possibilities of promoting and governing sustainable solutions from the viewpoint of the child’s own experience. The project develops new ways to recognise and support the transcultural agencies of unaccompanied children in order to co-construct sustainable daily worlds. It focuses on finding ways to help unaccompanied children feel at home and have a sense of belonging. Here is the project website in English and other material in English.
The development project ‘Children who flee alone’ has helped unaccompanied refugee children integrate into Danish society through, among other things, integration families. An evaluation carried out by the Danish Institute for Local and Regional Government Research, KORA, shows that the project has a lot of potential and that children and the young people benefit from it. ‘Children who flee alone’ has been continuously adapted as the project partners work on it together, and is therefore still in the process of finding its final form. Overall, the evaluation suggests that the project does have potential. The unaccompanied refugee children who were interviewed experience the benefits of both integration and friendship families – especially in terms of learning the Danish language. A total of four children have been placed in integration families, and several young people have had a family of friends. However, the number of families available is too small for the children’s demand to be met. The project can continue to develop on a number of points. There is definitely a need for clearer expectations, both in relation to the integration families and to the unaccompanied children placed in these families. In addition, there is a need for more transparency in the way temporary custody holders are involved.