I am a person and we are a community – Palermo (Italy)
WHO: Comune di Palermo
THE BEST PRACTICE: I am a person and we are a community
During the seventh e-Roundtable, participants presented the initiatives of the Municipality of Palermo regarding the reception of unaccompanied migrant children since 2015. Under the slogan “I am a person and we are a community”, the Municipality of Palermo successfully managed to bring together different organizations, each working on specific projects related to the reception of unaccompanied migrant children, and to create a cohesive network with a shared vision. The collaboration between the different actors led to the development of an official document titled “I am a person” and of a structured network of intervention in which each organization plays a specific role. The roundtable gave participants the chance to talk about the history and evolution of welcoming unaccompanied migrant children and focused on two programs specifically, underlining successes as well as challenges and lessons learnt.
Volunteer Guardians: An official list of registered volunteer guardians can be found in any courthouse in Palermo. They are individuals who have made themselves available to become volunteer guardians of one (or more) unaccompanied migrant children. Each guardian can only be responsible for a small number of children in order to ensure that they can form meaningful and constructive relationships with the minors. The training, management and coordination of volunteer guardians has been led by FAMI PROGRAMME since 2019, after initially being done by UNICEF. The majority of unaccompanied migrant children who are being welcomed is about to turn 18, so the project also needs to ensure that there are structures in place to care for them even after they are legally considered adults.
Foster Families: The possibility to assign unaccompanied migrant children to foster families was introduced in Palermo as a response to the growing number of arrivals. Only in 2017, however, the system was organically regulated. Local groups and institutions started to promote the programme, raising awareness on the importance of welcoming unaccompanied migrant children in family settings rather than welcome centres. The numbers in Palermo, however, remain low (5 assigned children in 2017 and 8 in 2018), despite the development of the Terreferme project, which increased the visibility of foster families as an alternative form of care. The Municipality hopes that the EPIC project, together with a widespread recruitment campaign, will further increase the number of available foster families. The city is expecting to welcome over 200 unaccompanied migrant children.
The project is coordinated by Fondazione l'Albero della Vita