It has been widely agreed that the foster care system in Europe must be strengthened in order to deal with the high number of unaccompanied minor migrant arrivals. This is the objective behind the project, "Profuce," aimed at promoting foster care for unaccompanied children across Europe. The project involves increasing the number of foster families, as well as providing new tools to parents and social workers for taking care of unaccompanied minor migrants.
Recruitment program for 280 parents
The project, which consist of a two-year program, is financed by the European Commission. The organization, "Istituto degli Innocenti," is heading the project in Italy, in cooperation with the City of Florence, and the non-profit Villaggio SOS in Vicenza.
Greece and Bulgaria are also participating in the project.
Profuce will launch recruitment campaigns to find foster families, with a total of 280 parents to be involved in the project. It will include training for social workers and for families, which will be coordinated in Italy by the "Istituto degli Innocenti." The training will use the "Alternative Family Care" method (ALFACA), developed by Nidos, a Dutch NGO.
The method focuses on dealing with cultural differences, as well as psychological problems and focusing on the minor's best interests. With this method, importance is placed on certain aspects of a child's life, such as a strong bond with their family of origin and their own country.
Project 'valid tool for European asylum policies'
Maria Grazia Giuffrida, president of "Istituto degli Innocenti," said that, in terms of foster care practices for unaccompanied minors, "the competencies of both social workers and foster families must be improved." She said the phenomenon of unaccompanied minors is a "transversal issue" that encompasses all of Europe.
"The social services of the countries that are dealing with this growing phenomenon are strained. This project, that we are leading, is proposing itself as a valid tool for European asylum policies. EU member states must coordinate their efforts and improve the quality of care to unaccompanied minor migrants," she said.
Giovanni Palumbo, general director of the "Istituto degli Innocenti," said that compared to other European countries, in Italy "there's a greater effort being made to search for family-based solutions in caring for unacccompanied minor migrants." Palumbo said that pilot projects have involved families of the same nationality as the unaccompanied children. "However, there's still the need for greater awareness and systematic training both for families as well as for professionals," he said.