Fostering Across Borders (Belgium)

Almost 200,000 unaccompanied migrant children sought asylum in Europe since the surge in arrivals of refugees and migrants in 2015. Fostering Across Borders (FAB) aims to improve and expand the quality of family-based care for unaccompanied migrant children in six EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Poland and the United Kingdom. Foster carers are being trained on and supported to address challenges and vulnerabilities these children may face.

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights recognised that family-based care is better than large-scale residences to provide a nurturing environment and address children individual needs. At the same time, training for professionals remains a high priority to provide the highest standards of care and protection, as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights highlights.

The report also found that fewer children go missing from foster care compared to reception centres and institutions. Nonetheless, the majority of the unaccompanied migrant children in Europe live in large-scale residential care facilities.

Fostering Across Borders (FAB) builds on the manual for professionals and the experience of the Alternative Family Care - ALFACA project, that also produced an e-learning package. The project, which runs from January 2018 to September 2019, is led by IOM United Kingdom and delivered alongside local partners.

The FAB project is funded by the European Commission, DG Justice (European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, 2014-2020). In Belgium, the project partners are Fedasil, Minor-Ndako and Mentor-Escale.


Activities

IOM Belgium, together with the implementing partners Minor-Ndako and Mentor-Escale, finalized the mapping reports, including the gaps and needs, of existing trainings for professionals and for family based-care (FBC).

The second transnational meeting (October 2018, Vienna) served as a kick-off for the revision and adaptation of the training manual to be used during the training of FBC providers. Potential trainers have also been identified during those last months of 2018.

Since the beginning of 2019, IOM Belgium, together with the implementing partners, has revised and adapted the training package to fit the Belgian local context. Following this, 4 Train-the-trainers (ToT) sessions were organized in order to pilot the training package using a feedback or a demonstration model. Two ToT sessions were hold by each partner, training professionals to become trainers on FBC for UMC. Furthermore, Mentor-Escale trained experienced Foster carers with the purpose to organize joint training sessions to include more filed experienced in the upcoming training session(s) for new foster carers.

Currently, the training package is being further improved and adapted based on the remarks made during the ToT sessions. The training package is developed to be used by professionals to train new foster carers and will be made available by the end of the project in both French and Dutch.

Additionally, two information sessions on FBC for UMC were hold in Brussels and Gent by Minor-Ndako and Pleegzorg Vlaanderen in order to recruit new foster carers.

A video is also now available, with the aim to promote family-based care for UMC, and hopefully, will help in recruiting new foster carers as well.

For more information on FAB activities, resources, downloadable materials and implementing partners, click here.