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Summer 2014

Special edition

the Migrant M O N I T O R I N G



“To safeguard children’s rights, we need independent monitoring.” 4 questionnaires Policy & practice improvements

To assess the status of the development conditions BIC-Q, BIC-S, SDQ, CFS

In home & host countries

EU countries invest significant resources in asylum and return programmes.

14 development conditions

Results of interviews with returned minors

Based on the UN Child Rights Convention - 7 family & 7 societal

Provide insight into the development perspective of the child

Monitoring the impact of Baseline

these programmes has seriously been lagging. To learn from past experience and systematically improve policy and practice, we need systematic

Explanation of the local standards for all 14 conditions

Improved future perspective for minors In line with the Child Rights Convention

Children’s Rights

Why we need monitoring

The Dutch Commissioner for Children’s Rights argues that it is our moral obligation to give children who are forced to return a soft landing.

Independent monitoring enables better decision-making and leads to asylum and return policies that are better tuned toward the needs of returning minors.

The Best Interest of the Child model has identified 14 conditions for development, which have to be of sufficient quality to protect the child’s prospects.

The MRM-project offers you a comprehensive package you can use if you want to monitor and evaluate the future perspective of returned minors.

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A new model

How to start monitoring

independent monitoring.


the Migrant > T H E N E E D F O R I N D E P E N D E N T M O N I T O R I N G

The MRM Project Monitoring Returned Minors The Monitoring of Returned Minors (MRM) project developed a Monitoring & Evaluation instrument (MRM model) that contributes to a more sustainable future of (returned) minor asylum seekers. The MRM-model not only shows how these minors are doing but also generates improvement opportunities for policy and practice. The project was initiated by HIT Foundation, was cofinanced by the European Return Fund and took place from November 2012 until Mai 2014. MRM was executed in close collaboration with Nidos, Micado Migration, the University of Groningen and local researchers. The outcomes were presented in the European Parliament in February 2014.

Children’s Interests must be weighed in the Asylum Procedure Interview with Marc Dullaert, Children’s Rights Commissioner The Netherlands

Currently, the individual interests of children are not taken into account in the asylum procedure. Neither in the decision, nor in the preparation for return or in the aftercare once families have gone back. The Dutch Commissioner for Children’s Rights argues that it is our moral obligation to give children who return a soft landing. The Kosovo Monitor demonstrates that a child’s development perspective can be improved with relatively small interventions.

Towards a transnational protection model By Tin Verstegen, Managing Director Nidos Foundation

As the mandated guardian for all unaccompanied children in the Netherlands, Nidos has a responsibility for the major decisions in the lives of these children. Especially when a child wants to or has to return, this confronts the guardian with difficult questions. What is the local situation in which a child will end up? What assistance is available? How can a child be prepared? And does it work out as planned if a child returns? A guardian is engaged in the development of a child and to do this properly, Nidos tries to answer these questions as accurate as possible. That’s why Nidos actively took part in the MRM-project. The project not only taught us a whole lot about the workings and room for improvement after return, it also helped us to develop more insight in future needs. Besides the fact that monitoring is structurally needed, it should be more integrated into a child protection model. In addition, assistance should be available in a structural way rather than as an incidental response and it should be better tailored towards the needs of the individual child in the countries of return. Nidos works on return from the perspective of the guardian, basically taking as a starting point that both, the commitment of the child as well as the commitment of the family is needed for a successful return. In practice this means many talks and assessing the situation upon return on the basis of limited information or means. Once the child has returned, the responsibility of the guardian ends. He or she rarely receives feedback on how a child ends up. This could be improved significantly. As we learned in the project, small interventions on the basis of specific information can already be of great help. What Nidos needs are professionals in the countries of origin, who can be a focal point for contact with a guardian in Europe and – in case of unaccompanied children – with family in the country of return. After return, the local professional can thus assist the child or family where and until when it is needed. If this person also has the mandate to intervene if the safety or development of a child is endangered, that would be the start of a transnational child protection model. And, as a guardian, we would have proper information and means to assist children with their return when this is in their interest. The Monitoring Model and the related model for assistance that were developed in the MRM-project are a first step in this development. Guardians in Europe call on European states to take the urgently needed next steps in the years to come.

Dullaert: “When you expel a child, you should ask yourself whether it has sufficient development opportunities.” All European countries have signed the Child’s Right Convention (CRC), which covers all minors who live within the EU borders, whether they hold a passport or not. However, the asylum procedure does not weigh the interests of children. Dullaert: “This means that there is inequality between children with and without a residence permit.” In his report: ‘Waiting for your future’ published in 2012, Dullaert advised that individual interests of children should be part of the asylum procedure because children face specific problems. “Imagine a child that lives in the EU for several years who does not learn the mother tongue of the ‘home’ country. When the family is expelled, this has a much bigger impact on the child than on the parents. That is why you have to take the interest of the child

Expert Meeting More than 70 people from all over Europe attended the Monitoring of Returned Minors expert meeting in the European Parliament. The meeting took place on 19 February 2014 on invitation of Jean Lambert, member of parliament for the Green Party. Marc Dullaert, the Netherlands Children’s Rights Commissioner, stressed the need to know how children are doing. Frans Bastiaens, director of HIT Foundation and MRM initiator, explained the goals of the project, financed by the European Return Fund. Prof.Dr.Mr. Margrite Kalverboer from the University of Groningen elaborated on the MRM model and presented the main research results. These were illustrated with real cases by field researcher Sami Shatrolli from the Kosovo Health Foundation.

into consideration in the return decision.” When children are sent back, legally the responsibility of the host country ends. “But,” argues Dullaert, “even if they return to countries that are considered safe, the host country still has a moral obligation. When you expel a child, you should ask yourself whether it has sufficient development opportunities. This is why monitoring is so important.” The European Commission together with HIT Foundation developed a first monitor and tested it in Kosovo. Dullaert: “The pilot showed that many of the returned children live totally isolated and have lost their roots. The Monitor is still in its development stage. Its main value is that it shows that it is not enough to help families to move back. A child needs much

more than that. The Monitor provides insight in how these children are really doing and what developmental problems they face. It shows that return can be improved with relatively simple things such as teaching children their mother tongue while residing in the EU.” If Dullaert were in charge, he would take two important steps to protect the rights of minors: “First of all, I would include the individual child’s interest in the asylum procedure. Make no distinction between children with a Dutch passport or without. There is no distinction in children’s law, so we shouldn’t make it in the asylum law either. Secondly, I would really like to further refine and elaborate the monitor. If there is no prospect for staying, how can we let them return in the best possible way and help them get their lives back on track.”


< the Migrant


Why we need independent monitoring and evaluation Knowing how children are doing to improve their future perspective.

Return migration is a complex policy area that serves a variety of objectives. It has to safeguard the interests of individual European states and those of returnees. And it has to deal with maintaining political support in the EU and with integration and security issues in countries of return. In this complex environment it is important to use instruments that assess the consequences of the systems that are designed and relate those to international agreements. Every year thousands of children return from the European Union to their countries of origin because their asylum request has been rejected. Although several studies were made in countries of return, we hardly know how these children are doing. Asylum policies and the following return policies and practices focus primarily on the situation of the parents. The best interests of children are not taken into consideration in a structural and explicitly motivated way. The aim of a monitoring & evaluation (M&E) model for returned minors is to provide insight into the effects of current asylum and return policies

and practices and to generate concrete opportunities for improvement. In addition, a model aims to make policies and practices more consistent with ratified international treaties, policy goals of European states and countries of return and with bilateral agreements between these two. Independent, systematic, methodology- based monitoring of returned minors enables better decision-making and assistance for individual children. But first and foremost it leads to asylum and return policies that are better tuned toward the needs of returning minors.

Children Rights Prevail United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child The MRM-Model is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that is ratified by all EU member states and almost any other country in the world. By signing they attest that children are a vulnerable group whose interests deserve special attention. The CRC is the foundation of the MRM Model. The CRC acknowledges the primary role of parents and the family in the care and protection of children, as well as the obligation of the State to help them carry out these duties. The UN Convention consists of 41 articles, each of which details a different type of right. These rights are not ranked in order of importance; instead they interact with one another to form one integrated set of rights. A common approach is to group these articles together under the following themes: • Survival rights: include the child’s right to life and the needs that are most basic to existence, such as nutrition, shelter, an adequate living standard, and access to medical services. • Development rights: include the right to education, play, leisure, cultural activities, access to information, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. • Protection rights: ensure children are safeguarded against all forms of abuse, neglect

Requirements for an M&E Model Before embarking on the design, the research team established the requirements for the MRM-model to be of value for all parties concerned. An independent Monitoring & Evaluation model for returned minors is: • Independent of the Member State the child returns from. • Independent of the organization that supports (returning) asylum seekers. • Usable at any time in the return- and reintegration process. • Connected to agreements by EU Member States about the way it will safeguard the rights of returned minors (CRC, HRC). • Usable by any member state and by any country of return to measure future perspective against local standards. • Easy to implement without the need for fixed structures. • Affordable, time- and cost-wise.


and exploitation, including special care for refugee children; safeguards for children in the criminal justice system; protection for children in employment; protection and rehabilitation for children who have suffered exploitation or abuse of any kind.

Children are a vulnerable group whose interests deserve special attention.


• Participation rights: encompass children’s freedom to express opinions, to have a say in matters affecting their own lives, to join associations and to assemble peacefully. As their capacities develop, children should have increasing opportunity to participate in the activities of society, in preparation for adulthood. General Principles The UN Convention includes four

‘general principles’ that form the bedrock for securing the additional rights in the UN Convention. 1. That all the rights guaranteed by the UNCRC must be available to all children without discrimination of any kind (Article 2); 2. That the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children (Article 3); 3. That every child has the right to life, survival and development (Article 6); and 4. That the child’s view must be considered and taken into account in all matters affecting him or her (Article 12). General Comment #14 The importance of Article 3 was once more underscored in 2013, when the UN Committee on the Rights of the Children published General Comment No 14, explaining in detail the interpretation of article 3 of the Convention that the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all European legislation and policy in which the best interests of children are at stake. Therefore this provision applies to the EU-asylum policy concerning children.


the Migrant > T H E M R M M O D E L

14 Development Conditions

Model to Monitor Retu

Monitoring learning loop to systematically improve the f

Translating the UN Child Rights Convention into an M&E Model The University of Groningen performed an international review study1 on risk and protective factors in the rearing environment of the child related to the developmental prospects and his or her perception of childhood. This study resulted in “the Best Interest of the Child-model” (BIC) that is based on the articles of the CRC.

4 questionnaires To assess the status of the development conditions BIC-Q, BIC-S, SDQ, CFS

The Best Interest of the Child-model contains 14 conditions for development, which have to be of sufficient quality to protect the child’s prospects. Scientific study of the method indicates a strong relationship between how the child develops and the quality of the socio-cultural environment in which the child grows up. The better the quality of the socio-cultural context, the fewer problems the child is experiencing.

7 FAMILY CONDITIONS 1. Adequate physical care Refers to the care for the child’s health and physical wellbeing by parents or care providers. They offer the child a place to live, clothing to wear, enough food to eat and (some) personal belongings. There is a family income to provide for all this. 2. Safe direct physical environment A safe direct physical environment offers the child physical protection. This implies the absence of physical danger in the house or neighbourhood in which the child lives. There are no toxics or other threats in the house or neighbourhood. The child is not threatened by abuse of any kind. 3. Affective atmosphere An affective atmosphere implies that the parents offer the child emotional protection, support and understanding. There are bonds of attachment between the parent(s) or care-giver(s) and the child. There is a relationship of mutual affection. 4. Supporting, flexible child rearing structure Encompasses several aspects like: • Enough daily routine; • Encouragement, stimulation, instruction and realistic demands; • Rules, limits, instructions and insight into the arguments for these rules, limits and instructions; • Control of the child’s behaviour; • Enough space for the child’s own wishes and thoughts and freedom to experiment and to negotiate over what is important to the child; • No more responsibilities than the child is capable of handling (to learn the consequences of his behaviour within the limits the parents have set). 5. Adequate examples by parents The parents offer the child the opportunity to incorporate their behaviour, values and cultural norms that are important, now and in the future. 6. Interest The parents or care-providers show interest in the activities and interests of the child and in his perception of the world. 7. Continuity in upbringing conditions, future perspective The parents or care-providers care for the child and bring the child up in a way that attachment bonds develop. Basic trust is to be continued by the availability of the parents or care-providers to the child. The child experiences a future perspective.

7 SOCIETY CONDITIONS 8. Safe wider physical environment The neighbourhood as well as the society the child grows up in is safe. Criminality, (civil) wars, natural disasters, infectious diseases etc. do not threaten the development of the child. 9. Respect The needs, wishes, feelings and desires of the child are taken seriously by the child’s environment and the society the child lives in. There is no discrimination because of background, race or religion. 10. Social network The child and his family have various sources of support in their environment upon which they can depend. 11. Education The child receives a suitable education and has the opportunity to develop his personality and talents (e.g. sport or music) 12. Contact with peers The child has opportunities to have contacts with other children in various situations suitable to his perception of the world and developmental age. 13. Adequate examples in society The child is in contact with children and adults who are examples for current and future behaviour and who mediate the adaptation of important societal values and norms. 14. Stability in life circumstances, future perspective The environment in which the child is brought up does not change suddenly and unexpectedly. There is continuity in life circumstances. Significant changes are prepared for and made comprehendible. Persons with whom the child can identify and sources of support are constantly available, as well as the possibility of developing relationships by means of a common language. Society offers the child opportunities and a future perspective.

14 development conditions

Results of interviews with returned minors

Based on the UN Child Rights Convention - 7 family & 7 societal

Provide insight into the development perspective of the child

Baseline Explanation of the local standards for all 14 conditions

4 Questionnaires 1. Best Interest of the Child Questionnaire (BIC-Q: perspective of the professionals) To assess the quality of the social-cultural environment the child grows up in, the BIC–Q was developed. This questionnaire is based on pedagogical and legal principles. With the BIC-Q, a professional can assess the quality of the current rearing environment of the child. He can then compare this with alternative solutions that would arise if a particular decision is made which includes a change of the environment the child grows up in. For all 14 conditions of the model it can be determined which articles of the CRC are violated if the quality of a specific rearing condition is insufficient. 2. Self-assessment Questionnaire Child (BIC-S: perspective of the child) In addition to the BIC-Q for professionals, the BIC-Self report questionnaire was developed for children and youngsters. With the BIC-Self report a child can indicate which environment he or she most wants to grow up in and which environment provides in his or her own view the best opportunities for development. This is the environment which, according to the child himself, is to be chosen in his or her interest. 3. Behavioural Questionnaire (SDQ)* Part of the BIC-method is the SDQ (Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire). The SDQ indicates if the child faces social and emotional problems. The child completes this questionnaire. * 4. Case Fact Sheet (flight history) The MRM-Model uses, besides the BIC-questionnaires, a so called Case Fact Sheet in which factual information about the return process has been provided, such as the length of stay in the host country, the return process, the legal status in the host country, the assistance prior and after return, etcetera.

1. In the best interest of the child? A study into a decision-support tool, validating asylum seeking children’s rights from a behavioural scientific perspective. A.E. Zijlstra 2012


urned Minors

< the Migrant


Interview Results

future perspectives of returned minors Provide insight into the development perspective of the child Trained professionals use the 4 questionnaires to access the developmental conditions of the returned children. There is a manual available with clear instructions on how the interview should be conducted. The manual also contains descriptions on each of the conditions. Each interviews takes two to three hours.

Policy & practice improvements In home & host countries

For a number of reasons it is highly preferred that two interviewers collaborate in the assessment of the situation. There are tasks to be dived on the spot: creating the right atmosphere, introducing the purpose of the interview, conducting the different interviews with the parents and the child, taking notes and afterwards discussing and registering the outcome. The results of the interview will show, based on local standards, what social and emotional problems children face after return and what the quality is of the

[ ] The interviews show the social and emotional problems children face after return and the quality of the environment they grow up in.

social and cultural environment they grow up in. In practice the 14 conditions for development are described and scored on a scale of four. Each condition can

either be judged to be positive (good or satisfactory) or to be negative (moderate or unsatisfactory). If a child scores 7 or more conditions negative the development conditions are considered to be insufficient to have a future perspective. The challenge is not only to score and describe the conditions for development but also to define possible interventions that might improve these conditions. It is obvious that many conditions interrelate; interventions will often be directed to improve combinations of conditions.


Improved future perspective for minors In line with the Child Rights Convention

Local Standards Baseline The MRM-model is a flexible and easy to use instrument at any

Examples on the basis of the Kosovo Monitor The results of the interviews not only give input for interventions on an individual level but also on a group level. Information on the developmental conditions for returned minors in the countries of origin can be used as input to evaluate standing asylum- en return policies and practice. The main question is: What can be improved to make return of minor asylum seekers more in alignment with the best-interest-criteria for children? In other words: What can be done to influence the developmental conditions in a positive way in order to improve their future perspective?

moment during the migration cycle and in any country (return as well as receiving countries). The Baseline is the only component that is country specific and that needs to be developed separately for every country of return. Developing local standards -how-

On the basis of the Kosovo Monitor there are already many examples to be given. A few examples:

ever difficult- is a requirement for any monitoring model to be of added value. The Baseline describes the local standards of the 14 development conditions. The best way to develop a baseline is using a control group that shows the differences between children that fled the country and children that never left. Because of financial limitations within the project, a control group was not included. Instead, local professionals described the local standards in the baseline. Extensive discussions at the start of the project resulted in a first rough draft of the description of the conditions in the context of Kosovo. The first 30 cases were used to improve the baseline and the interview methodology.

Policy and Practice Improvements

120 cases in Kosovo were used to further improve the baseline. The instrument is self-improving: the more used, the more conclusions can be drawn, and the better the validation will be. Ultimately a control group will be the best way of bringing the baseline to the next level. The current baseline gives a good indication of what local circumstances are to be considered good or bad for the developmental conditions of a returned minor.

Condition 11 - Education • Improving the chances of returned minors to (successfully) attend school by providing classes in their mother tongue and culture while in the EU. • Providing all the necessary

documents that give access to education, such as a birth certificate and relevant (translated) diplomas. • Choosing the return moment in alignment with the school agenda (preferable in the summer vacation). Condition 4 - Supporting, flexible child rearing structure and Condition 5 - Adequate examples by parents • Making and/or keeping parents responsible for their children while in the EU through practical measures and/or trainings. • Keeping parents responsible for their own living conditions and future while in the EU, for instance through financial and practical responsibilities for their food, activities and housing. Access to the labour market and real responsibilities in their living conditions would be preconditions. • Monitoring and evaluating the children’s developmental perspective while in the EU and taking appropriate measures to

meet the 14 development conditions. Condition 10 - Social network and Condition 12 - Contact with peers • Giving access, in as many ways as possible, to stay in contact with family members and friends in the country of origin while in the EU. • Involving the social network in the country of origin in the return process. • Maintaining contacts in the EU member state after return (peer groups, classmates, teachers). Condition 14 - Stability in life circumstances, future perspective • Creating stability in life with a focus on a future perspective is almost impossible in the life of an asylum seeker. What will help is minimizing the number of moves between asylum centres, giving opportunities to develop the child’s talents, preparing well for return and preventing unexpected and incomprehensible repatriation.

Improved Future Perspective for Minors The individual interviews and the analysis of the results for the whole group provide the input to start making improvements. Determining suitable individual interventions, mobilizing cooperation of the (public) network and identifying the necessary funds are the steps needed to work on an improved future perspective. Repeated monitoring of the same group is necessary to show whether progress is made but also to determine if the actual situation is more in line with the Childs Rights Convention.


the Migrant > R E S E A R C H R E S U L T S

Research Population 120 children returned to Kosovo The total research group consisted of 150 children in the ages of 11 through 18. 120 of them returned from the EU to Kosovo. All children -except one- were rejected from an asylum procedure. A small minority of the parents was able to work for a living. Return to Kosovo has been predominantly forced (73%), with a slightly higher percentage for those of Roma ethnicity. 43% of all returnees to Kosovo claim not to have received any benefits or return advice before departure. 26% received some financial support. For the Roma, the percentage of those receiving cash benefits upon return has been higher. After return, 70% of returnees to Kosovo have enjoyed assistance in kind or in cash, while 20% claim to have received nothing.

30 children returned to Albania Albanian returnees came mostly from Italy (43%) followed by Greece. Most of them were able to work and returned voluntary with permanent residence permission in Europe (67%). These children are doing fine and scored 12 of the 14 conditions of sufficient quality. We assume that permanent reintegration is not the primary aim. The Albanian returnees are considered economic migrants.

The findings raise grave concerns Analysis of the results The findings for Kosovo raise grave concerns. While a significant part of the monitored children is doing fine, 50% is in (dire) need for treatment and/or assistance.

1. Adequate physical care 2. Safe direct physical environment 3. Affective atmosphere 4. Supportive, flexible childrearing structure

The children in this study who are growing up in a child rearing environment of good quality (=10 or more conditions of sufficient quality) show significantly less problem behaviour than the children growing up in a rearing environment of a lower quality.

5. Adequate examples by parents 6. Interest 7. Continuity in upbringing conditions 8. Safe physical wider environment 9. Respect 10. Social network 11. Education 12. Contact with peers 13. Adequate examples in society

There are large deficits in the quality of the development conditions of these children, leading to the overall conclusion that a significant percentage of returned children experience a threat in their development. These deficits appear to have been influenced by the asylum and return procedure. The behavioural questionnaire (SDQ) shows that more then 50%

Children that returned to Albania all came back voluntarily. They earned a living in Greece or Italy and decided to return because they lost their jobs as a result of the financial crisis. Most of them had a permanent stay-permit in one of the countries. The group returning to Kosovo all came back involuntarily because their claim for asylum in one of the EU countries had been rejected. Children coming back to Albania have a significant better future perspective then the children returning to Kosovo. Children that returned involuntary (either forced or â&#x20AC;&#x153;imposed involuntaryâ&#x20AC;?) score less conditions of sufficient quality than those who voluntary returned. There are no big differences in scoring the conditions between forced and imposed voluntary return. Still, there is a difference between leaving accompanied by police (and sometimes on short notice) and leaving in a planned and well prepared way with specific assistance in place. Returning in a more self-determined and prepared way has a positive impact on the mental state of minors. Improved policies might be able to support this positive impact in the future if return is inevitable. Children who returned forced have a higher likelihood to develop psychological problems, which aggravates the problem if their conditions of childrearing are also of bad quality.

Kosovar-Roma Children

14. Stability in life circumstances

The results of the BICquestionnaires show that children who face serious problems after return grow up in a socio-cultural environment of insufficient quality. Both professionals and these children themselves rate most of the conditions insufficient. Professionals are especially negative about the quality of condition (1) adequate care, (3) affective climate, (4) supportiveflexible-child-rearing-structure, (6) interest, (10) social network, (11) education and (12) contacts with peers.

quality of the rearing environment (BIC) and the social and emotional problems (SDQ) children face. For children with the most severe social and emotional problems more conditions are of insufficient quality. An insufficient rearing environment can create a problematic mental state. The biggest problem for children who suffer from emotional distress is not having a social network they can count on and lack of contact with peers. They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t experience stability in their lives.

Forced versus voluntary return

of the children cope with emotional problems. The majority of this group (75%) needs clinical treatment according to European standards of mental health. The SDQ also shows that 56% of the children have difficulties in contacts with peers. Looking at the results of both questionnaires, there appears to be a correlation between the

[ ] More than 1/3 of the returned children to Kosovo needs clinical treatment. Returning in a more self-determined and prepared way has a positive impact on the mental state of minors.

The rearing environment of returned Kosovar-Roma children is of a lower quality than the environment of returned Kosovar-Albanian children, both according to the interviewers as well as to the children. In general the Roma Children face more problems. On average they only score 4 from the 14 conditions of sufficient quality. While Roma children score poorly on family conditions, lack of education is their biggest problem. None of the Roma children receive education of sufficient quality, only 40% goes to school and only 13% entered secondary school. For 70% of the Roma children the contacts with peers are of low quality. They have virtually no social network. The behavioural questionnaire (SDQ) shows that 67% of all the Roma children cope with emotional and social development problems. According to European standards of mental health 46% of all Roma children need clinical treatment. 67% of all Roma children have difficulties in contacts with peers.

The professionals judge that 95% of the Roma children with emotional stress grow up in an environment with a very low quality of adequate care. The Kosovar-Roma children stayed almost twice as long in one of the EU member states than the Kosovar-

1. Adequate physical care 2. Safe direct physical environment 3. Affective atmosphere 4. Supportive, flexible childrearing structure 5. Adequate examples by parents 6. Interest 7. Continuity in upbringing conditions 8. Safe physical wider environment 9. Respect 10. Social network 11. Education 12. Contact with peers 13. Adequate examples in society 14. Stability in life circumstances

Albanian children did. Consequently the Roma children are born more often in the EU than the KosovarAlbanian children are. Except for one family, the whole Roma group had support after returning to Kosovo.

I N T E R V E N T I O N S & H O W T O S T A R T M O N I T O R I N G < the Migrant

Individual Interventions Helping children to improve their lives The information available from the MRM model can be used as a basis for realistic and feasible interventions. The focus should be on improving those conditions -or a combination of conditions- that have the most impact on the child’s development and future perspective.

The goal of the MRM-project was to develop a monitoring & evaluation tool. Consequently the interventions in the frame of the MRM-project were (financially) limited. To formulate an individual intervention, preferably together with the minor and his/her network, the following should be determined: • Which conditions are of insufficient quality and what

is lacking in these conditions? • Which improvement has the most impact on the development and future perspective of the child? • Is the child suffering from emotional and social distress? • What are the positive strengths of the minor and his/her environment and how can we use them? • Are the interventions realistic and feasible (SMART)?


Hamide & Remzije* Suffocating family conditions

Hamide and Remzije are 2 girls in the age of 14 and 16. Together with their two younger sisters and parents they fled to France in 2008. Life was good in France. After 6 months in a refugee camp they moved to an apartment and got a monthly allowance of 930 euros. In their experience this was a spacious place. There was enough money for food, clothing and activities. The smart girls quickly mastered the French language, one of them excelled in athletics. After denial of the asylum request the family was returned to Kosovo. Having sold their house to pay for the trip to France, the family had no place to live. A cousin allows them to stay in a small, very old house. It a very unsanitary place; the windows and doors don’t close and there is no heating. Both parents are unemployed. With no family income there is little food and clothing. The girls do go to school, but they are set 2 levels back, because they can’t show what they have done in France. The experience in France makes it very hard for the parents to accept their situation. The mother blames her husband (and children) of not trying hard enough, showing her anger to the world. The father tries really hard but can not find a job. The kids live in isolation. They grow up in suffocating family conditions, without much respect from their parents. Their future is to get married soon. The best age is between 17 and 20 in Kosovo. Conditions: The future perspective of Hamide and Remzije is not good. Their socio-cultural environment is of bad quality and thus the conditions show that their emotional, social and intellectual development is very problematic. Almost all conditions rank moderate or unsatisfactory The SDQ scores for both girls reflect these circumstances: • Overall stress: very high (clinical) • Emotional distress: very high (clinical) • Hyperactivity and attentional difficulties: high • Difficulties in getting along with other children: very high (clinical)

The interviewers discuss the outcomes of an interview with a researcher from Groningen en behavioral scientist from Nidos.

What to do ? In the (limited) framework of the project, these girls went to French classes after school, where they met other returnees from France. Here they can further develop their language skills as a possible asset on the labour market in Kosovo where very few people speak French. It also gives them a (limited) opportunity to meet peers. Other interventions would include psychological treatment, placing the girls in the right school level so they can finish with a diploma, developing the athletic talents of the girls but also sending father to school to learn a trade and invest in job-mediation.


A poor learning environment Arsim was 12 years of age when he returned with his mother after a 5-year stay in Germany. Arsim is a Roma boy and had a Serbian father who was killed during the war. After the involuntary return from Germany in 2011, Arsim and his mother lived initially in an Albanian district, where he attended 6th grade for the second time. Although he had language problems, he came along all right in school and had several friends. Mother, being unemployed, chose to move to a Serbian enclave in hope of support from the Serbian community. Arsim started 6th grade for the third year in a row, this time in a language he didn’t write or speak and with children of a much younger age. He is not doing well in school and is being bullied as a Roma in a Serbian community. The move from the Albanian neighbourhood isolated him from friends and leaves him with no one but his mother who sees no way out of their situation. Arsim is a polite young man that settled well in the German way of life. His personality, upbringing and education (in Europe) gave him every opportunity to escape the predestined workless lives of the Roma in Kosovo. His current situation seems to have seriously diminished his future perspective. Conditions: Many conditions are of insufficient quality. There is no income (condition # 1), there is no daily structure that encourages or allows Arsim to take responsibility for his own life (# 4), the mother is not a role model that functions as a mirror to Arsim (# 5), there is no continuity in the upbringing conditions (# 7), and also respect (# 9), social network (# 10), education (# 11) and contact with peers (# 12) are problematic. No need to say that the stability in life and a future perspective (# 14) scores negative as well. SDQ scores • Overall stress: slightly raised • Emotional distress: high • Difficulties in getting along with other children: very high (clinical). What to do? Improving Arsim’s development conditions is not easy. The Kosovo Monitor results indicate that the most effective measure would be to get him back into a school where he understands the language and is accepted, so that he can actually focus on learning and start building a social network. This would require either moving again or providing him with appropriate transportation. A stable family income would make a big difference as well. This condition is even harder to upgrade in a society with an unemployment rate of 50% and very little chances for Roma.

*Cases are real. Names have been changed for privacy purposes.

How to start monitoring Every minor returning to their country of origin deserves to be independently monitored and evaluated. If only because all EU member states ratified the Childs Rights Convention in which survival-, development-, protection- and participations rights are agreed upon. The MRM-project offers you a comprehensive package you can use if you want to monitor and evaluate the future perspective of returned minors. Package content: • Methodology description • Manual for interviews • Baseline for Kosovo • Online tool to register the results (

• Analysis of the results by University of Groningen Steps You need to: 1. Identify the target group within the determined criteria (age group, ethnicity, length of stay in host country, etc.) 2. Hire local professionals (e.g. social workers, young psychologists, family therapists, psychology/economy students) with some experience, preferably in the field of (economic) reintegration or psychological healthcare to be trained and deployed as interviewers. (The MRM-project worked in Kosovo with the Kosovo Health Foundation and APPK.) 3. Organise a two-day training for new interviewers. Use the methodology as input or contact the MRM-project staff. 4. Discuss the Baseline for Kosovo or work on a new baseline for other countries by discussing the 14 develop-


6. 7. 8.

ment conditions in the local context (using the first 30 cases to improve the baseline). Prepare for the actual interviews (identify target group and contact details, prepare paperwork, organise interview time and location). Execute the interviews, register the output and (cross) evaluate the interviews. Send the registered interviews to the University of Groningen for analysis. Determine the intervention(s) that will improve the development conditions.

One interview is approximately 2 days work for 2 people. The costs in Kosovo amounted to about 200 euro’s per interview. A single interview is only feasible if executed by an experienced interviewer with this methodology. But the indication works for a larger group. Interviewing 100 children (in Kosovo) takes about 8 months and can be done for approximately 20.000 euro.


the Migrant > L E S S O N S L E A R N E D & N E X T S T E P S

Conclusions .... Monitoring the well being of children upon return to improve policies and practical assistance is possible in a methodological and structured way, against limited costs. Monitoring Model The model is applicable in any country of origin and at any moment during the migration cycle, independent of the countries children return from, and from whatever organisation they receive assistance. Only the baseline (the interpretation of the 14 development conditions in the local context) has to be developed separately for each country of origin. More cases improve the instrument in general as well as the countryspecific baseline. The MRM model is relatively easy to implement and does not require fixed structures for implementation. The main question the MRMmodel answers is how policies and practices can be improved to make return of minor asylum seekers more in alignment with the bestinterest-criteria for children. In

other words: What can be done to influence the developmental conditions in a positive way in order to improve the minor’s future perspective? Findings The Kosovo Monitor shows that a large number of children that returned to Kosovo is not doing well. They have a (very) limited future perspective and are in (dire) need of assistance. A relevant question that remains unanswered is whether return was (organised) in the best interest of the children. For many children this seems not to be the case. Their future perspective was most often not taken sufficiently into account. The MRM model shows that the adaption of policies and practices is possible in order to better meet the best interest of the child.

Project Partners HIT Foundation in The Netherlands develops innovative solutions to tackle complex challenges at the crossroads of labour and migration. Through action research and practical experiments, HIT provides new input to advance migration policy and practice in Europe and beyond. Nidos is the independent guardianship and (family) supervision agency in The Netherlands. Nidos carries out the guardianship task for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, pursuant to the law. Micado Migration is a German consultancy specialized in migration and its consequences, both in countries of origin and in destination countries. The University of Groningen in The Netherlands applies fundamental academic research in an innovative way when dealing with social and individual problems. APPK




1. Reserve a fixed percentage of funding allocated to return projects and programmes for independent monitoring and evaluation. 2. Apply the MRM model in other return countries. 3. Execute more innovation projects on monitoring and evaluation to compare results and further improve the methodologies. 4. Use the monitoring results to improve return policies, individual case counselling as well as reintegration programmes.

... and Next Steps Getting independent monitoring on the agenda The MRM project is only a first step in a field that receives much attention in the international arena, but lacks structural translation to the practical level. To reach significant impact, the model should be used in multiple countries for the majority of returnees. The results of the model should be acknowledged and used for policy improvements in both the EU and countries of origin, preferably in cooperation with each other. Finally, it should lead to better assistance and support on the individual level to improve the lives of the returned children. To reach these objectives beyond the scope of the project, some initial actions have been taken. These require follow-up actions at all levels and by all parties involved. Full availability of the instruments

Dissemination of the results and discussion for follow-up

Concluding: how to move on from here?

The results of the project are available in the form of three complementing products. 1. The monitoring model and its questionnaires. Local actors can use the model to monitor returned children. Limited amount of training is needed and analytical support is available. For each new country of origin, a baseline for that country needs to be developed to take into account local standards and/or the use of a local control group. 2. The Kosovo Monitor shows concrete areas for improvement in the Kosovar and Albanian context and insight in the type of information the model can deliver if used structurally. 3. The intervention report on the experiences where the model was used as an instrument to intervene in cases that were identified to be in need of assistance and support.

Apart from the project partners, the MRM project sought to involve main stakeholders from European member states, from Brussels and from Kosovo. The main channels of dissemination were the Expert Meeting in the European Parliament and a local conference in Kosovo. The urgency of improved monitoring was emphasized during the Brussels conference. The initiative for piloting on a structural basis lies with individual member states, whereas EC support is required for further development of the model.

From here the project partners will search to follow up and reach the impact goals to full extent by initiating follow-up projects, by offering assistance to other actors, member states and countries of return in using the developed instruments and by advocating the issues with international actors.

More cooperation in Kosovo In Kosovo a conference was held involving the local partners, NGOs, international parties, the Kosovo government and (West) European embassies. As a follow-up to that, to look at further implementation, two events are on the agenda, one initiated by the government of Kosovo and one by UNICEF Kosovo.

This requires (several of) the following follow-up activities: • Working with a control group • Monitoring the same group repeatedly • Enlarging the research population for improved understanding and validity • Increasing cross analysis between the variables • Up-scaling through implementation in additional countries of return • Comparing the results between countries.

Agency Kosovo) offers socio-economic reintegration support and capac-

About the Migrant

ity building to contribute to economic development and general stabilization of the community. Kosova Health Foundation (KHF) contributes to the improvement of the health status of Kosovo’s citizens in particular in the areas of reproductive health and mental health.

The Migrant is a special edition newspaper published by HIT Foundation, innovation platform for labour and migration. Concept & copy: HIT Foundation & Perspectivity Photography: European Parliament, APPK, Kosovo Health Foundation, Perspectivity Design & illustrations: Printing:

More Info? Frans Bastiaens T +31 6 29 09 70 09 E Jan Murk T: +31 6 10 88 80 50 E: Herman Schönmeier T +49 6 81 910 320 10 E

Co-funded by the European Return Fund

Summer 2014 migrant monitoring returned minors  

EU countries invest significant resources in asylum and return programmes. Monitoring the impact of these programmes has seriously been lagg...