Specialized Childcare Organizations for Unaccompanied Minors
The project in brief
The project is implemented by the Ministry of Family and Social Services in Türkiye. The project started with the opening of Child Support Centres in 2015. It is thought that the project will continue and be further developed with national and international collaborations.
Children who receive services from the specialized children's home sites for unaccompanied children could benefit more from academic, vocational and psychosocial support mechanisms. Unaccompanied minors under the age of 13 benefit from other service models such as children's homes, children's home sites and foster families. In this context, 2,244 foreign children were served in the childcare institutions under the responsibility of the Ministry of Family and Social Services in 2022.
The aim of this project is to improve the well-being of all children, including refugee and unaccompanied children, by increasing the capacity of childcare institutions. Currently, there are childcare institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Family and Social Services. However, specialized childcare institutions for unaccompanied children, which are presented as examples of this good practice, respond to the physical, emotional, psychological and social needs of unaccompanied children. These organizations support the psychosocial rehabilitation of unaccompanied children, their integration into society, their participation in education and their acquisition of vocational skills.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The ultimate goal is to reduce the effects of trauma experienced by children under protection and care, for them to acquire coping skills, to ensure healthy personality development and to gain independent living skills.
In the living units consisting of villa-type houses within the campus, there are areas where children can spend time. In addition, there are indoor and outdoor sports fields, hobby gardens, animal shelters, training and workshop areas, therapy rooms and interview rooms. Here, services are provided in smart buildings where safe materials are used and children are monitored.
Upon admission to the institution, an advisor (social worker, psychologist, child development specialist, sociologist or teacher) is assigned to each child. The advisor informs the child about the centre and facilitates the adaptation process. They ensure regular participation of children in social, cultural and sportive activities (such as music, theatre, painting, handicrafts) according to their abilities, interests and wishes.
There are social and sportive halls where children participate in activities. Branch teachers and personnel from the relevant departments of universities working in various branches provide sports, music, theatre, folk dance and drama training.
In addition, individual interviews and group activities are carried out with the children within the scope of the "Anka Child Support Programme", which is a specially designed as a psychosocial support programme. Activities are also undertaken to prepare children for life after leaving the centre.
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
The implementation of the programme is facilitated by the Child Protection Law which outlines the regulation in the field of child protection.
Collaborations with other public institutions also contribute to the process. Child welfare is an area that needs to be studied holistically. For this reason, it is important to work in cooperation with institutions such as the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Education. For example, the education processes of unaccompanied children are followed by the Ministry of National Education, and health processes are carried out by the Ministry of Health.
Additionally, MoFSS cooperates with UNHCR. This collaboration has helped to increase the capacity of the implementation. In this process, UNHCR provides personnel support to increase personnel capacity and supports organizing training activities to strengthen staff capacity. UNHCR also provides goods and materials for the furnishing of the institutions and offers vehicle support to organizations in 10 cities.
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
The language barrier between refugee children and staff made the therapy and counselling process difficult.
How they were overcome
With the Anka Programme, which was specially developed for unaccompanied children, the language barrier was overcome by using less audio material and more visual material.
Results of the Good Practice
- Rehabilitation processes were initiated by providing psychosocial support to unaccompanied children.
- Unaccompanied minors gained professional skills.
- The attendance rate of unaccompanied minors increased.
- The unaccompanied child's biological, physical, psychological and sociocultural development was supported.
- The well-being of unaccompanied children has increased.
- Service capacity in organizations has increased.
- Staff's workload and responsibilities have been lightened.
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
The sudden increase in the number of unaccompanied children has brought a number of responsibilities to the host countries. This project helped to reduce the workload and financial burden of the host countries. Personnel employed with the support of UNHCR helped to increase the quality of work by reducing the workload. In addition, the supply of goods and materials to organizations enabled the sharing of the financial burden.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
Through this good practice, the service capacity of childcare organizations is increased. At the same time, children's cognitive, physical and spiritual development is supported and their well-being is strengthened. In this way, it meets the "Enhance refugee self-reliance" goal of the GCR. For example, rehabilitation activities are carried out to reduce the trauma of unaccompanied children who remain under protection and care in these institutions. In addition, processes of adaptation to society are supported. Health, education, social and cultural rights are equally enjoyed. It is aimed for a young person who leaves the child care institution when they reache adulthood to gain biological, physical, psychological, social and economic life skills.
It is expected that the project will be further developed.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
- To expand the participation of unaccompanied children in vocational training.
- To increase the number of personnel with advanced trauma training.
- Collaboration programmes