The National Foster Care Association has been training 15 foster parents, social workers and foster care experts to implement foster care for unaccompanied migrant children. The training included social workers from child protection departments, regional foster care teams, foster parents, and human rights lawyers from non-governmental organizations involved in migration issues. The experts went through training on the Alternative Family Care (ALFACA) model. This is a foster care model for unaccompanied migrant children, developed on the basis of the long-standing experience of the NIDOS NGO in partnership with Belgian, German, Czech and Danish organizations working with refugee children and migrants. ALFACA is a set of theoretically grounded techniques, good practices and activities that have been well established in several EU countries.
In the framework of training, trainers Peter van de Paul and Catelijne Sillevis of the Dutch organization Nidos, together with the participants, looked at different topics from the ALFACA methodology, including the main accents in dealing with unaccompanied refugees and their specific situation, the development of care for unaccompanied children. Specific issues related to psychological well-being, safety risks as well as work in the intercultural environment and cultural differences of unaccompanied migrant children were studied and discussed.
Training specialists went through training modules on social work and the role of social workers and foster families when accommodating unaccompanied migrant children in a host family. Various case studies on the specific care of foster families of the same ethnic origin, as well as local foster families, were taken into account.
The three-day training is part of the project for the development of foster care for unaccompanied migrant children in Europe PROFUCE. The project is being implemented in different regions of Bulgaria, Greece and Italy, as the leading organization in the realization of the initiative is Istituto degli Innocenti di Firenze. In Bulgaria, the National Association for Foster Care is in partnership with the Know-How Center for Alternative Child Care (NBU). For Bulgaria, the regions where the approval and training activities of foster parents for migrant children will be implemented are the regions of Pernik and Sofia, Vidin and Haskovo.
During the training the participants were visited by the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Rositsa Dimitrova, who encourages the professionals to develop their knowledge and competencies in the field of this specific foster care. The Deputy Social Minister met the trainers of the Dutch NGO personally to learn the experience of the Netherlands in the protection of unaccompanied migrant children. Peter van de Paul and Catelijne Sillevis presented the main results of the training and provided feedback on the challenges facing the Bulgarian side in the quality of foster care for unaccompanied migrants. For her part, Rositsa Dimitrova added that a coordinating mechanism for local action is currently being developed for all involved parties regarding foster care for unaccompanied migrant children.