Background and Needs addressed


Very few EU Member States have put in place national child protection systems and statutory requirements, where children actively participate in planning for leaving alternative care [1]. Even in systems where child participation takes place, leaving care mechanisms fail to continuously screen and assess children’s trauma to effectively respond to their needs towards independent living [2]. According to the UN [3], when too little attention is given to this transitional period, the consequences in a child’s life can be significant.

The Council of Europe recognizes the need to prioritise the protection and development of children in state care including unaccompanied / separated children [4], who have faced experiences of violence, grief for lost places and people, little sense of belonging in a new unfamiliar environment, educational and job difficulties [5]. Psychotherapy and other non-discursive methods such as visual arts, music, and drama have proved essential for children’s trauma healing, helping them to find their identity, create a community, and get prepared for self-care. Nevertheless, national child protection systems demonstrate gaps in service provision, such as inappropriate care and therapy arrangements and lack of psycho-social support, lack of capacity to implement child’s best interest procedures, lack of participation of children in programme planning & implementation, lack of cross-system collaboration mechanisms to implement a durable solution [6]. Public authorities should therefore invest in integrated trauma-informed support programmes and evidence-based policies, guided by the children’s views, age and maturity. They should involve specialized professionals of multiple disciplines to assess children’s health and emotional needs, and to develop and implement one-stop trauma-informed interventions and individualised plans for self-care, social inclusion, practical and inter-personal skills, housing and living.

  1. FRA Mapping child protection systems in EU 2017
  2. FRA Fundamental Rights Report 2017
  3. UN Handbook: Guidelines for the alternative care of children (Focus 12)
  4. Council of Europe: Policy guidelines on integrated national strategies for the protection of children from violence
  5. The Suitcase Project: Working with Unaccompanied Child Refugees in New Ways
  6. UNHCR - Unaccompanied and Separated Children in Europe – October 2016