Protection of unaccompained children and adolescents – Spain



Accem is a non-profit, non-partisan and non-denominational organisation that works to improve the living conditions of people in vulnerable situations. They have been working with children in situation or risk of social exclusion for more than 20 years, providing care and shelter to minors in situations of distress, of both native and foreign origin.


During the fifth e- round table, ACCEM presented 3 of its programs on child care and reception of UASC, implemented in 3 different Spanish Autonomous Communities. It is important to note that the Spanish legislative framework establishes that Autonomous Communities and Autonomous Cities are competent on Child care and protection policies. 

The reception program for unaccompanied migrant children in Asturias. The receptions facilities consist in flats with a capacity of 8 children, and the program provides for an integral assistance to unaccompanied migrant adolescents (i.e. social and psychological assistance, legal support, vocational training, job inclusion, leisure, etc.). One of the main element of fostering the integration of children is the issuance of a residence permit that in Spain still represent a challenge (event though the situation varies according to the Autonomous Community), as well as its renewal.

The program for the personal autonomy and the preparation to independent life in Castilla La Mancha. It is addressed to youths between 16 and 24 years-old that are, or have been, under the guardianship of the administration.  Its core aim is to facilitate the empowerment and the adaptation process to autonomous and independent life of unaccompanied migrant children. The program provides support in reception, vocational training/access to work, economical support, and social inclusion, and it counts with a specific pre-employment program for youths. From ACCEM  experience it is evident the importance of an individualized work with each child/young and the use of a participative methodology of children/youths in implementing the program and the services. A risk factor is the vicious circle between documentation and employment, in the meaning that, in order to work, youths need a residence permit, but considering the challenges existing in Spain in order to be documented, thus the possibility of getting a job strongly decreases (or disappear).

Fatima Hizoun's testimony, a Moroccan girl arrived in Spain underage, outlined all the difficulties she experienced as being migrant, alone and being a girl and the essential support she received from ACCEM  program in obtaining a school diploma and going through that difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood.  She participated in this program in Castilla la Mancha, now she is 21 years old. In her testimony she repeatedly underlined the multiple and intersectional discriminations she faced and faces (i.e. in housing, employment, etc.) both in the origin community and in the Spanish one for being female, migrant and minor. She also speaks about the challenges during her migration process and her integration due to cultural and religious barriers both in her country of origin and in the reception country.   

The program “CaixaProinfancia” implemented in the city of Málaga (Andalusía). An educational intervention in situation of social exclusion, which aims at breaking the poverty cycle that transmits from the parents to their children, and at offering children future opportunities. The program provides services to families with children from 0 to 18 years, in two different areas: education and health.  The program is focused in fostering the community work and the empowerment of children and families in their neighborhood. Its methodology of intervention, is called “territorial model” (“modelo territorial” in Spanish): the city of Málaga is divided into different territories and each NGO participating in the program develops its work in a concrete neighborhood. 

In the end the intervention of Hermes de la Osa Belloch, Technician from the Centre Coordination Area of the Sub-directorate for Child Protection, Community of Madrid, provided insights on the first experiences of foster care to unaccompanied migrant children in the Autonomous City of Madrid. He underlined the different challenges existing in Spain in order to have foster care implemented as option for the protection of UASC (i.e. discrimination, fear to the so called “call effect”, etc.). the Autonomous Community of Madrid had very few experiences with foster care, and he considers that, at the moment, the foster care of a child into the extended family is the formula that is positively working so far.
logo fadv The project is coordinated by Fondazione l'Albero della Vita