This part of the toolkit addresses the importance of knowing your mandate but also working according to it.
To ensure your well-being, you need to keep some simple rules in mind. They will help you to carry out your task in the best way possible and in the child’s best interest. You should:
- Know your mandate, in order to act accordingly.As a guardian you have been given a mandate: the official assignment to take responsibility for an unaccompanied child, in their best interest. Each mandate has clear, precise boundaries defining the guardian’s tasks, rights, duties and areas of action. Read the official assignment and the professional or volunteer job description to make sure you understand what is expected of you. Going beyond the mandate’s limits may expose you to an overload of work and could lead to you becoming too emotionally involved. You would then run the risk of stress, dissatisfaction and frustration.
- Have a deep knowledge of the system, its functioning and its actors.It is important to make yourself familiar with the procedures, laws, unwritten rules and main actors in the system. This helps you to find the right answers and to work more professionally (also if you are a volunteer).
- Keep yourself up-to-date on the developments in your field and the protection system.
- Know your rights and benefits (e.g. reimbursement, paid leave), to ensure a good work-life balance.
Italy: mixed system for managing guardians
Right from the start, the Veneto region decided to use a mixed system for managing guardians of unaccompanied children. In this system, responsibility for the child is shared. A regional specialised team is responsible for supervision and technical support, while local social services are responsible for the child’s daily care and support.
The local social services give support and guidance to the guardians through so-called ‘local case managers’, providing them with all necessary information and consultations on specific matters and on the correct interpretation of their role and related responsibilities. The local case manager helps the guardian to perform their role and guides them through the regional child protection system as they get to know its main actors. Monitoring meetings are provided as an opportunity for the guardian to present and discuss their experiences with child protection. The regional specialised team provides orientation, support and legal advice.
As required by law, guardianship is carried out by volunteers in Italy. The Veneto region supplies the guardians with insurance and reimburses their annual expenses.
The Netherlands: methodology for guardianship
In the Netherlands, Nidos is the unaccompanied child’s ‘legal guardian’. It acts as the child’s legal representative, has parental responsibility and is accountable for the child. The guardian actually supporting and guiding the child is a Nidos employee who has studied social work and done targeted Nidos training on unaccompanied children. Nidos guardians work according to a written methodology that gives them a clear definition of their mandate and tasks.