Recommendations for and from practitioners from the conference “Beyond the emergency: Providing quality care for children and youth on the move across Europe”, Palermo, November 2017
Following the events of 2015-16, when an increased number of children and youth on the move across Europe were in need for adequate care and accommodation, the questions of how to provide care and what type of care arrangements are adequate to cater to beneficiaries with differing and complex care needs resurfaced. Reflecting on how care is being provided – independent of the care setting – is crucial to ensure the well-being of beneficiaries. In addition to the UN guiding principles of ‘necessity’ and ‘suitability’, three key guiding principles emerged from discussions among youth representatives, practitioners and researchers: (1) Building trust, ensuring stability, promoting dignity; (2) Recognizing individual vulnerabilities, yet focusing on talents and strengths; and (3) Fostering a welcoming and caring environment. Implementing these principles in practice can be pursued without significant additional costs to practitioners or funding institutions.
Alongside these principled considerations, the use of respectful and dignified language and the adoption of an appropriate style of communication are crucial to increase the quality of care. Different degrees of participatory models, ranging from consultative to collaborative and child-led participation, can be employed to ensure political, institutional and social participation opportunities for beneficiaries. In each of these models, practitioners need to mitigate different ethical dilemmas and challenges to ensure that the aim of providing more inclusive care is achieved in a sensible manner.
The emergency context provided a momentum to capitalise and test alternative models of care to expand the menu of care arrangements for children and youth on the move across Europe. These different types of care arrangements include family-based care and foster care, semi-autonomous living arrangements as well as co-housing projects. While there is no one right model of care, the provision of a range of options of alternative care arrangements apart from big-scale residential settings should not be seen as a luxury. Even in an emergency context, the choice of care arrangements needs to cater to beneficiaries’ particular needs and take into account the specific legal, political, institutional and socio-economic context across EU Member States in which care is being provided.