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U-CARE Unaccompanied Children in Alternative Residence IOM- ARSIS


The International Organization for Migration in collaboration with ARSIS – Αssociation for the Social Support of Youth implements from January 2021, the U-CARE program (Unaccompanied Children in Alternative Care) with the main goal of strengthening and promoting foster care of unaccompanied migrant children in Greece.

On Thursday, June 17, 2021, the 1st National Dialogue was held on the subject of Foster Care and Unaccompanied Migrant Children. The event was greeted by the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mr Domna Michailidou, the Deputy Minister of Migration and Asylum, Ms Sofia Voultepsi, the representative of DG HOME in Greece Mr Monika Ekström, the Chief of IOM Mission in Greece, Mr Gianluca Rocco and the founding member of ARSIS, Mr Nikos Gavalas.

The intriguing speeches covered the issue of Foster Care in various dimensions. The participants attended the event through an online platform. The audience consisted of coordinators of shelters for unaccompanied minors, social workers from the Regional Units,  staff of international organizations, representatives of Ingos and national NGOs, public servants from competent ministries. For the first time, organizations that support unaccompanied migrant children “met” with public sector organizations that implement the foster care program. Following this meeting, in the coming months, training will be held for professionals working in the national child protection system and an awareness-raising campaign will be launched to attract foster parents.

The U-CARE project, financed by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (2014-2020) and coordinated by IOM Belgium, is a 20-month initiative that contributes to the development and improvement of alternative non-institutionalized care systems for Unaccompanied Migrant Children (UMC) in Belgium, Germany and Greece. Through an inclusive child-centred approach and the exchange of good practices, knowledge and experiences, existing systems and tools will be strengthened.

This project targets primarily unaccompanied migrant children by exploring, strengthening and considering alternative care options as a more suitable response to their specific needs. To respect children’s views and to ensure that the envisioned tools respond to the actual needs, UMC will be invited throughout the project to share their opinions. The project also aims at mobilizing, recruiting and training foster families, with a specific focus on those with a migration background, as well as training professionals working within national child protection systems. Finally, the project puts considerable emphasis on (trans)national exchange of good practices and awareness-raising within the general public and among more specialized actors on the importance of family-based care and residential care alternatives.