Nearly 100 specialists underwent foster care training for unaccompanied migrant children
Nearly 100 social workers, foster care professionals and unaccompanied migrant children rights experts underwent training to implement the foster care model for unaccompanied migrant children. The experts from various state institutions, child protection departments, community foster care teams and social services in the community from Sofia, Sliven and Haskovo participated in a two-day training in which the cultural, social and ethnic characteristics of the migrant children. The trainings were targeted at professionals working with foster parents and aimed at developing their knowledge and skills together with foster parents to support unaccompanied migrant children and vulnerable children of different ethnicity and nationality. Part of the training package was also the presentation of a methodology for the development of an individual project for easier adaptation in the community and independent life of the children.
The foster care of unaccompanied migrant children is one of the possibilities that national legislation permits as a measure to protect these children at risk. According to the UN Convention on Children Rights, any child at risk, a refugee or a fugitive from a military conflict, has the right to protection, education, access to healthcare and social adaptation in the community, like any Bulgarian at risk. Despite the set rules, however, the discussions in the trainings showed that the specialists do not feel sufficiently prepared and do not know to a great extent the duties of each participant involved in the provision of protection to unaccompanied migrant children. In this context, within the training sessions a space was provided for discussing the individual and team roles of each one involved with the process of protection of refugee children.
The participants had the opportunity to learn about the specifics of childhood, spent in running away from wars, as well as the cultural and social norms that define communication and support for every child in need of protection. Within the framework of a training session, case studies from the national context were developed to develop participants' competencies in terms of dialogue, teamwork and casework.
Experts of the Know-How Center for Alternative Child Care presented the method of creating an individual plan for each child based on the attitudes, values, skills and knowledge of the child, as well as the context of his residence in Bulgaria. Social worker trainers were social work experts, specialists with experience in providing legal assistance to migrants, and foster parents with experience in managing social worker teams. Ani Arutunyan - Stamenova, NFCA consultant, presented the modules related to the cultural features of migrant children, the legal regime of residence of unaccompanied migrant children in our country, access to protection as well as inter-institutional interaction, and Tanya Ganeva from NFCA works with the participants for the implementation of foster care for unaccompanied migrant children in the national context of the child protection system.
In the framework of the trainings, the general conclusion was reached that in our country there would be foster care in which there is no real accommodation for the unaccompanied young people (currently around 30 and aged 14 to 18), it is feasible for foster parents to provide "partial" foster care by taking the role of mentors and trusted persons for the youngsters who support them in their social adaptation while staying in the country and at reception centers in our country. This can happen through systematic visits, taking them out of the center and providing day care, attending school, sports clubs, health institutions, and more.