Hosting and Intervention Model for the Relocation of Unaccompanied Minor Children in Portugal

Combining the intervention with asylum seekers as part of the child protection system
Good Practices

Hosting and Intervention Model for the Relocation of Unaccompanied Minor Children in Portugal

Combining the intervention with asylum seekers as part of the child protection system

The project in brief

The project is implemented by High Commission for Migration (ACM) in Portugal. It began in July 2020 and is currently ongoing.

The Portuguese Government agreed to take part in the voluntary relocation scheme, promoted by the EU, for UMC who were in Greece in a situation of extreme vulnerability. 380 UMC have been hosted so far. The intervention model to host de UMC was built from scratch and developed based on the general guidelines of the child protection system and the integration of asylum seekers. This system was built collaboratively by the governmental institutes involved in both matters.

The Portuguese government’s agreement to host UMC in the relocation scheme created the opportunity to design an integration model incorporated in the child protection system, aiming the special vulnerabilities of the asylum seekers.

Main activities of the Good Practice

The creation of 3 levels of host responses:

  1. Residential care responses: through the creation of Specialized Care Homes, for the initial reception of the UMC. Five Specialized Care Homes have been set up in different parts of the country and each one has a Specialized Team (Director, Psychologist and Social Worker and 7 other Educators).
  2. Independent Living (Autonomization Apartments), where a team maintain the social support to the UMC in their transition to adulthood. There are 8 Autonomization Apartments in operation, with dedicated Technical Teams, with 2 members - psychologist or social workers.
  3. Supervised Autonomy Responses, which correspond to teams that monitor the integration of the UMC, due to their characteristics and abilities associated with autonomy and citizenship, when already integrated into the community. This response provides support in housing,health needs, education, employment, household and financial management, social relations, emotional and behavioural development. 8 teams were set up, 7 of which are still in operation. Every team has 3 members (psychologist, social worker and educator) and they provide support to a maximum of 20 UMC.

Partners involved

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


The implementation of new responses, made from scratch was very challenging: it was not only necessary to develop the intervention model for each different response, but also to create teams to provide the specialized support for the UMC.

During the implementation it turned very clear that the least autonomous response, the Specialized Care Homes were not suitable to all the UMC. This more protective and less autonomous model did not fit in the older UMC's expectations.

How they were overcome

Regarding the training, all the teams received specialized training about the child protection system and asylum seekers integration, also with the participation of international organizations (IOM and UNHCR).

It was also necessary to adapt the Supervised Autonomy Responses also to receive the UMC directly from Greece, without passing through the Specialized Care Home.

Results of the Good Practice

The UMC had the possibility to benefit from suitable responses that promoted their individual development and social integration. Specialized teams were implemented and are prepared to continue to develop this model.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

Portugal received 380 UMC and is expected to continue to host UMC in the relocation scheme.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

The intervention model implemented aim the autonomy of the UMC, their self-reliance and citizenship.

Objective 3: Expand access to third-country solutions

Promotes integration into regular education, professional courses and/or universities according to the interests of young people. Promotes professional internships to train young people, interacting them in the job market

Next steps

The project is still on-going and it is expected to be extended to receive new UMC pledges.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

More training in human trafficking networks.

Submitted by

Miriam Gonzaga, Support Office for Refugee Integration Coordinator of the High Commission for Migration, Portugal

Contact the project