Guardianship systems for unaccompanied children in the European Union: developments since 2014
The new report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) examines key developments since 2014 as regards guardianship systems for unaccompanied children from non-EU countries. It looks at unaccompanied children independently of their status, which includes child victims of trafficking, children seeking asylum, and children with international protection status, as well as children who do not apply for asylum but who need protection.
The report reveals that EU Member States continue to face many challenges to provide for full and effective guardianship for unaccompanied children arriving in Europe. National guardianship systems vary greatly across the EU. The support, and the type of protection offered, depends in practice on the child’s status. To address the challenges and to improve the diverse guardianship systems EU countries should, as a priority, protect all children equally and provide guardians for unaccompanied children, as part of overall national child protection schemes, no matter their status. In order to safeguard the child’s well-being and best interests, guardians should be ensured participation in all decisions affecting the child. For guardians to perform their tasks effectively, they should be provided with systematic training and on-going support.
The report builds on earlier FRA research and desk research carried out by FRA’s research network, FRANET. The Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University contributed to the report by compiling data on the guardianship system in Finland.