The main objective of this Mario research was to analyze good practices and gaps of the Hungarian Child Protection System in relation to children on the move. The report is based on a desk research and qualitative methods according to “Mario Methodological Guidelines”.
The first section provides an overview, which sets out the general framework of the research and a short comparative analysis of the legal and institutional background that impacts or is applicable to CoM.
The second section addresses the particular characteristics of the CPS and CoM. It provides an analysis of qualitative indicators of CPS, like efficacy, inclusiveness, adequacy, accessibility, proactivity and prevention. Results of more than 30 interviewees, including children affected and adult professionals show that:
- While some efforts to promote a more comprehensive approach were successful the problem is still likely to be investigated and treated by respective professional areas. There is *no exact definition of the term 'Children on the Move'* neither at international level nor in Hungary.
- In general, the Hungarian legal environment can be considered coherent with international and European standards. It contains fundamental protection measures, however (as this paper is going to reveal) there is still room to improve.
- CoM should be primarily seen as children. The circumstances in which they find themselves and the challenges they face are diverse and complex, requiring multilateral, multi-sectoral, comprehensive and holistic lines of action.
- CoM are in need of a holistic approach and multi-sectoral cooperation, whereas fragmented child protection responses, during which each stakeholder deals with problems individually rarely provide a comprehensive and durable solution Focusing on single issues on their own may result in the ineffective operation of the CPS, which is neither sustainable nor truly able to respond to the needs of all CoM.
- The protection of CoM is affected by capacity issues. In the last years, Hungary has reached some progress regarding both basic and special services. There have been some successful initiatives for capacity building, but mainly initiated by the international bodies and NGOs. Despite some improvements, there are still enormous problems that root in financial limitations.
- In the case of cross-border migrants, the greatest challenge is communication. The availability and the language used by information sheets and websites is not satisfactory either.
- Psychological care is also very problematic in the Hungarian CPS. In addition, CoM and their families have limited knowledge about the access to health care and education.
- From the children’s point of view: they rarely demonstrate that they are aware of the risks or that they care about their safety. This makes them even more vulnerable. Professionals helping CoM are often mislead by the appearance of mature, independent looking children and get the wrong idea about the need for help. In particular, there is no evaluation available regarding the efficiency of CPS, nor assessment of challenges researchers face when evaluating Hungarian child protection services.
An additional key finding of this work is that there is a need for more systematic research on the effectiveness and adequacy of CPS and the characteristics of CoM, as there is hardly any high-quality research in this field