BACKGROUND: A TEAM OF GUARDIANS ON THE SIDE OF UAM
Minors who arrive in Belgium alone, that is without their parents or any legal representative, can be recognized by the Guardianship Service as an unaccompanied foreign minor. They are then assigned a guardian who will assist them in all the steps related to their stay in Belgium. Caritas has a team of 8 professional guardians who support more than 200 children a year. Caritas assisted 212 unaccompanied minors in 2016, and 229 in 2017.
Objective: Protection and Care
Guardians act as a UAM’s legal representative, working in the minor’s best interest and supporting the minor in the search of sustainable solutions for their future.
Responsibilities as a legal representative
The different tasks undertaken by the guardian are
- To represent and accompany the minor in all administrative and legal procedures
- To find a lawyer
- To ensure that the minor can go to school and that they receive appropriate medical and psychological care
- To try to find their family
- To manage any of their potential assets
- To establish a bond of trust and speak to them regularly in order to understand their position on any decision the guardian wants to undertake
Caritas’s team of guardians is also involved in other projects such as:
- Family reunification training
- Pleegzorg Vlaanderen’s “Give the world a home” project, which aims to support UFMs in their search for a host family. Care continues to be provided to minors even after a host family has been found. Minors and their host parents often have many questions. Pleegzorg Vlaanderen meets regularly with the Caritas team to find a common approach and appropriate support for those involved.
- Training and support of francophone guardians through:
- A helpdesk to answer questions
- Individual support (two hours per session)
- Group coaching sessions on different subjects such as administrative information, education, the asylum process, psychological, medical and social support, as well as preparation for the CGRA interview, family reunification, municipality procedures, etc. Another emphasis is also placed on self-reliance through information about working conditions, passports, opening a bank account, etc.