WHERE: CZECH REPUBLIC
Established in 1991 in Prague as a non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian organization, OPU has been helping refugees and foreigners in the Czech Republic for 28 years.
THE GOOD PRACTICE: HALF WAY HOUSE AND HOST CARE FOR UASC
In 2003, OPU has set up a dedicated team for assisting Unaccompanied and Separated Migrant Children, consisting of lawyers and social workers. At the moment, OPU is the only non-governmental organisation in Czech Republic that systematically dedicates to this specific group of migrants, trying to respond to the drawbacks of the current reception and care system.
The numbers of migrant children arriving without parents, or legal guardian in Czech Republic it is not very high, in the last 4 years the average is between 40 and 50 UASC hosted per year. OPU is committed at 360 degrees in care and support activities for this children, more specifically the organization offers:
During the second e-round table, held on the 26 of October 2020, OPU, after a complete overview of the care and reception system for Migrant children, focused on presenting the project Half Way House a long running project dedicated to accompain UASC throughout the transition to adulthood, and the new project Host Care for UASC
- legal support both for UASC who needs legal counselling mainly on their future residential status in Czech Republic, and for those who needs specific assistance while being in detention centers (e.g. legal representation, presence at the age assessment interview)
- socio-economic support with day by day assistance for accommodation, job research, psychological assistance
- workshops preparing UASC for independent life after they have reached 18 years
- organization of free-time activities thanks to OPU volunteers
- a 24/7 helpline where children are encouraged to phone in case they need any assistance.
Half way House started in 2008 and it is addressed to young people aged 18-26 with valid residence status in the Czech Republic, but without any family background. It is a temporary accommodation (usually for a 12 months period), a flat that can host 4 people at the time, providing them with help to fully integrate into society throughout:
While Host care for UASC is a new project intending to promote foster care for migrant children.
In fact, although there are no legal obstacles in implementing it, there are not foster care cases in Czech Republic yet. The main difficulties encountered are the high age of UASC, who are mainly 15-17 years old, and the lack of foster families. With the Host Care project OPU promotes a particular form of foster care: UASC that live in the National Facility for migrant children are hosted by families only during week ends and holidays
- Contact with society
- Social and therapeutic care
- Help with legal and personal matters
, to spend with them their free time, having more occasion to integrate within the society
With the cooperation of local social services OPU runs the project by:
Moreover, OPU highlighted the crucial role of volunteers in carrying out activities with UASC. They offer their experiences and their time for a variegated set of activities such as material help, one-off leisure time activities, mentoring program with adults and children.
In paticular OPU invests a lot of emphasis and energies in promoting the mentoring program for UASC which give the opportunity for a long term commitment for volunteers helping UASC to find a stable mentor who can support their integration process.
The key point underlined by OPU for a successful mentoring program with volunteers are:
- Looking for families who want to give their care to UASC
- Training and assessing host families
- Matching families with UASC
- Carring out psychological assessment of families
- Planning each quarter, self support sessions for host families
- Regular contact of the volunteer coordinator with UASC
- Regular contact between mentee and mentor
- Regular contact of mentor with volunteer coordinator
- Attending supervisions for volunteers
- Cooperation of the Facility for Children-foreigners