“Hope For Children” CRC Policy Center (HFC) is an Independent, International and Humanitarian Institution
with headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus.
INTEGRA is a multidisciplinary mentorship program aimed at supporting the entrepreneurship of children in care and young care-leavers co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission.
The INTEGRA approach envisions a personalised participatory framework, where the stakeholders take the role of guiding, connecting, mediating and supporting the children in the restoration process of new reference points for their future social and economic inclusion.
INTEGRA Continuous Cooperation Network was launched on the 29th April 2019 in order to intensify and expand a functional and efficient cooperation for supporting the path towards autonomy of children and ageing-out youth from the residential centres by adopting a comprehensive approach.
Target VG and type of host community
Unaccompanied migrant minors: Young refugees and migrants are among the most vulnerable categories. As soon as children turn 18 years old, they cannot make use of international protection instruments and no longer have access to the same rights and the same opportunities and support in many areas, including social assistance, education, health and psychosocial care, recreational activities, accommodation, information on administrative procedures and other services.
Application setting: context
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe approved the first Recommendation CM/Rec (2019) to member States on supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood. It encourages member states to promote and apply measures aimed at ensuring that young refugees receive additional temporary support after the age of 18 to enable them to access their rights, and at recognising and strengthening the role of youth sector in promoting better access to these rights. It also recommends to foster comprehensive interdisciplinary co-operation between institutions in areas such as child protection, youth, health, education, social protection or welfare, migration, justice and gender equality.
- To intensify and expand a functional and efficient cooperation for supporting the autonomy processes of children and ageing-out youth from the residential centres.
- To foster the autonomy of unaccompanied minors and youth who are about to leave care system.
- To support unaccompanied minors to express their full potential, to acquire new skills and to share and feel connected to others.
- To train professionals in the host communities to improve their ability to support resilience, entrepreneurial skills and the ability to project children’s goals within the community.
- To establish a Platform 4 Cooperation – a platform for cooperation – that will facilitate communication between the partners, the professionals working within the host communities and those interested in accompanying the autonomy of young people who are about to leave these structures.
- The INTEGRA network connects residential care providers, educators, successful care leavers, VET providers, educational institutions, local authorities working with migrants, guardians of unaccompanied minors and provides favourable settings for effective exchange of information about opportunities targeted at unaccompanied minors and youth in Palermo.
- Implementation of the Focus Group: Connect stakeholders (professionals working with migrants, educators, schools, educational institutions, companies offering opportunities to children/girls, authorities) and discuss relevant activities they are willing to offer and believe should be included in the Collaboration Platform.
- Development of the Cooperation Protocol: Promoting collaboration between the different stakeholders means to establish and expand efficient cooperation to support the paths towards autonomy of children and young people leaving the community.
- Development and launch of the Collaboration Platform: Connect the different stakeholders (professionals, companies, young people) through the collaboration platform accessible online and promote opportunities for them (courses, trainings, job offers, accommodation offers, etc.) for minors and young people coming out of the reception paths.
- Training for mentors and stakeholders: Improve the ability of professionals and mentors to support resilience, entrepreneurship and to project the dreams of children and young people by facilitating their integration into the local community.
The INTEGRA network connects entities and individuals who have committed themselves to collaborate, share experiences, skills, good practices and initiatives with the aim of promoting pathways of accompaniment to autonomy for minors and young people who are about to leave the host communities.
- Promoting Empowerment and social integration of care-leavers aged 16+ through the establishment of a multi-agency support network.
- Developing and piloting a Mentoring Integration Programme to empower residential care professionals as Leaving Care Mentors.
- Understanding & assessing the state-parent’s responsibilities and the care-leavers’ challenges.
- Creation of a multi-agency Collaboration Continuum Network of interested stakeholders.
- Design of a Platform4Cooperation to connect state parents, care leavers and stakeholders.
Difficulties or constrains for its implementation
- Focus on the integrity of identity: children in care in general, and unaccompanied children specifically, have unique cultural references deeply connected to their identity and their sense of being an individual. Caregivers and mentors should be aware of how to keep that connection alive.”.
- Unpredictable elements and obstacles that might come either from the care system, community or even the children in care. In some cases, the children are not interested or are afraid of entering adulthood and thus refuse to engage in any empowerment or rehabilitation activities.
- Adoption of the terminology: “ageing out of care” expression indicates that the child exits a status, an identity, uncertain of post care support. The adoption of “ageing out of care towards autonomous living” or “ageing out of care into adulthood” could contribute to a new mindset and become a constant reminder to all professionals that the final goal of this inclusive process is a confident, autonomous and integrated adult and not just the present state of care while they are under 18 years old.
- Implementing the recommendations of the Council of Europe
- Guiding Supportive Figure: train and empower the caregiver as Leaving Care Mentor, the professional safe attachment figure that has the knowledge and the abilities to guide and connect the care leavers towards an independent and active life.
- Personalised approach and avoiding one-size-fits-all approach: mentors need to support the children using a personalised approach, by designing a custom-made plan according to children’s personal needs and dreams. The specific services should also follow the same approach.
- Tailored-made educational opportunities: these educational opportunities should address (a) engagement in educational and vocational activities where different communities come together and the audience is mixed (b) Language lessons that will support their connection to the local community (c) fast track educational opportunities for children in care that enter the system after 17 years old.
- The presence and the quality of informal and formal support network: there is a need for a system that envisions the growth of significant, long-term relationships and social networks at its heart; building a safe community around the children so the care leavers do not feel that they get out into a social “ empty space ”.
Additional temporary support after the age of 18
Year and length (duration)
CRITERIA actors or stakeholder are using to assess them as a “good practice”
- The network is open to everyone
- Building a relationship before planning: the most comprehensive transition plan might fail without an informed and trust based relationship between the caregiver and the child.
- Providing integrated models of support that start as soon as a child enters the residential care and are provided through a stable, continuous relationship with the child where the transition plan is adjustable according to the time in the care centre.
- The transition plan includes a personal life project: the transition plan should always involve the development of a life project that is connected to the children’s strongest passion and interests.