So far, the results of the theoretical research and practical observations show that in all partner countries there are more or less strict, legally binding criteria for recruitment and deployment, as well as governmental support measures, training and official audits when it comes to placing children in foster families. However, from the national brief studies of the project partners, gradual differences can also be identified, i.e. the national situation of foster families in the individual partner countries also has some specific features.
Based on the results of the research of the individual partner organisations, a comparative analysis was carried out to identify the specific situation, the prerequisites for foster families and the institutions involved in the respective countries. In addition, further research was conducted to complement the individual studies and to make certain trends visible in a pan-European context. This includes the placement of unaccompanied refugee children, some of whom are traumatised, vulnerable children who find themselves in difficult and precarious life situations and need special protection.
The study in general and the analysis of the results of the individual focus group discussions in particular show that there are different approaches with different emphases here. It also shows that some countries have recognised the specific problems of refugee children and are trying to develop perspectives to deal adequately with the children concerned. In some countries there seems to be rather a lack of awareness of the situation of unaccompanied refugee children.
The evaluation and analysis of the interviews with the focus groups in the individual partner countries carried out here is therefore intended, on the one hand, to reflect on the theoretically gained insights from the perspective of professionals working in practice and to develop ideas on the extent to which these insights can be transferred into practice or whether they correspond to the practical working world. On the other hand, it is important to work out the commonalities and the national specificities, to draw conclusions for the future handling of foster children and foster parents and to design appropriate and future-oriented (training) education measures. From this point of view, it seems particularly important to prepare and enable professionals to deal with foster families, to recruit foster parents and to communicate with them as well as to include their interests, needs and expectations in the conceptual considerations without ignoring the reality of foster children's lives. Conceptually, the approach of thinking together both specific perspectives, i.e. the situation of foster families and foster children, and developing conceptual, holistic and individual profiles from this, seems to be a further step. As was emphasized in all focus groups in a special way, these considerations also include the reduction of prejudices and stereotypes in the public. In this sense, the project focuses on the inclusion of children at risk (with a special emphasis on unaccompanied children) and advocates for alternative forms of care such as foster families.
In summary, three perspectives emerged from the work so far that characterize the foster care system in all partner countries. These are perspectives that will play a role in the development of modules and will be incorporated into the conception and design of training programmes:
1) Structural obstacles: Lack of or rigid, inflexible legislation; restrictive laws in the area of refuge; unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles; lack of cooperation between the institutions involved; insufficient training of foster parents; overwork of professionals; problems with authorisation procedures; lack of regular training, education and professional development.
2) Life-world aspects in connection with foster families and foster children: Focus on the reality of life of foster parents and foster children; respect for the respective situation of those involved; taking the needs and interests of those involved seriously; not losing sight of intercultural particularities; more insight into the reality of life of foster parents and foster children; relationship work.
3) Possibilities for intervention (best practices) and further ideas: Creation of an application tool containing all important information; Continuous family mediation; Participatory design of all processes; Sensitisation of the population; Creation of social awareness for the situation of children and families; Therapeutic care for traumatised children; Informal talks; Methods of trauma work; Concept of New Authorities (systemic approach); Case management approach focusing on the life situation of those involved.
Only when the three aspects are thought of together can adequate intervention methods be developed and positive synergy effects achieved.
This requires training modules that include the most important aspects of the intervention in the conceptual and methodological considerations:
The first step is a holistic approach that marks the most important structural obstacles, makes the lifeworld perspectives of those involved visible and includes best practices in further conceptual considerations (integrative approach). Only then can appropriate individual profiles be developed depending on the situation. Another point that should accompany the entire processes is diversity and resource orientation both in institutional, theoretical and concrete work. This means that foster parents and foster children are not seen as victims of their living conditions but as experts of their own practice. Their ideas, perspectives and experiences are respected, acknowledged and integrated into the intervention.
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