Support for independent guardians

Caritas International Belgium Support for independent guardians

Isabel Corthier

Isabel Corthier



Helpdesk and coaching for guardians

Target Audience:

French-speaking independent guardians. Dutch speakers have access to the same service at the Dutch-speaking Red Cross – het Rode Kruis


Since 2015


Brabantia social services

Context: Caring for at-risk youth

Everyone who decides to become a guardian for unaccompanied foreign minors (UAM) undergoes a selection process. Those selected receive basic training from the Guardianship Service. Our Helpdesk then offers an expansion of this training. We focus on the following skills:

  • Knowledge: understanding of the institutions that are involved in making decisions for the minor; understanding of the legislation, appeals process, personal rights, etc.
  • Know-how: how to prepare the minor for an interview; how to conduct research and negotiate long-term solutions constructively with the authorities in charge; how to temper the expectations of the minor with the realities of the host country.
  • Interpersonal skills: maintaining adequate distance with each unaccompanied minor while continuing to provide a large source of support; knowing how to help minors make decisions; success in preparing them for adulthood.

Objective: Adaptive support

Grow independent guardians’ knowledge, their know-how, and their relationships with minors. Support is adapted to guardians’ needs throughout the guardianship process.

Individual and group activities

This project is divided into several components:

  • The Helpdesk
    The Helpdesk service is available to guardians by telephone and email. It is open three times a week: Monday from 9am to 12.30pm, Tuesday from 5pm to 7pm, and Thursday from 1pm to 4pm. French-speaking guardians can ask practical questions, share difficulties they’ve encountered, and receive concrete advice as well as detailed, helpful information regarding their guardianship. The Helpdesk also aims to help guardians who at times feel a bit overwhelmed with the scope of their responsibilities. In the event of a complex issue, they can schedule an appointment in order to review their situation in greater detail.
  • Individual support
    Each guardian can ask for individual support for an ongoing guardianship, especially in complex cases or during their first guardianship. We provide concrete advice and seek solutions in collaboration with the guardian. In 2017, we were able to offer two-hour individual support sessions to nearly 40 guardians.
  • Training
    We offer training to independent, certified guardians in topics related to guardianship.

    • Session 1 includes administrative information, schooling, the asylum process, social, medical and psychological care, procedures regarding interpreters, useful contacts, etc.
    • Session 2 discusses topics related to preparation for the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS), mock hearings, explanation of other procedures (the UAM process, human trafficking, 9bis, 9ter, European UAMs), family reunification, family allowances, procedures with the municipality, important aspects of reception and the Youth Assistance Service.
    • Session 3 focuses on self-sufficiency: social assistance, working conditions, obtaining a passport, opening a bank account, voluntary return and illegality.

Additionally, we organize further training 2-4 times a year on specific topics brought to the attention of the Helpdesk. In 2018, we focused on family reunification, social rights, and specific residence and asylum procedures.

Are you a guardian in need of assistance?

Contact the Helpdesk by phone at 0472 72 03 58 or by email at

(Open Mondays 9am-12.30pm, Tuesdays 5pm-7pm, and Thursdays 1pm-4pm).

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