Moreover, age assessment procedures have been carried out and

Moreover, there are many
cases that children were located in closed facilities due to a lack of suitable
alternative reception options. Taking into account the negative impact that
detention can have on children, administrative detention should be used, in
line with EU law, only in exceptional circumstances as a last resort, for the
shortest amount of time and never in a prison environment.

Additionally, age assessment methods and procedures differ
among Member States widely. For example, many times unnecessary age assessments
may have been reported and along with invasive methods. Plus, guardians are
often appointed only after age assessment procedures have been carried out and
age disputes sometimes result in children ending up in detention (MSF, 2017).

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As mentioned above,
another serious problem is the family
tracing and family reunification/unity procedures which are often
protracted or start too late. Such procedures should be carried out
irrespective of the child’s legal status, with the involvement of a person
responsible for child protection or the child’s guardian once appointed. For
asylum applicants, transfers based on the family unity procedures of the Dublin
Regulation are under-utilized and sometimes take many months until they are
implemented (UNICEF, 2017). Finally, there are sometimes long delays in
processing the asylum and other proceedings concerning children. For example, despite
constant encouragement from the Commission, as of 2 April 2017, only 341
unaccompanied and separated children have been relocated from Greece. In Italy,
only one separated child has been relocated as the authorities have not yet
developed a specific procedure for the relocation of unaccompanied children
(UNICEF, 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possibilities for future
improvements

Long- lasting solutions are crucial
to ensure normality and stability for all children in migration. The
identification of durable solutions should focus on all possible aspects of
migration, such as integration in a
Member State, return to the country of origin, resettlement or reunification
with family members in a third country. Regarding children who are not
granted asylum but who will not be returned to their country of origin, clear
rules concerning their legal status are needed: Member States should clearly
set out the duties of those involved in the assessment procedures in order to
avoid having children with no determination of their legal status for extended periods
of time. Access to education, healthcare and psychosocial support while
awaiting the status determination should also be ensured. Finally, Member
States should seek to ensure availability of status determination procedures
and resolution of residence status for children who will not be returned, in
particular for those who have resided in the country for a certain period of
time.

Early integration of children is a
social investment since it promotes societal cohesion overall in Europe and simultaneously
it is a necessity for the children’s’ development into adulthood.  It also contributes to the minimization of
risks with regard to possible criminal activity and exposure to radicalization.
Member States ought to foster efforts to promote a positive approach to
diversity, as well as to erdicate racism, xenophobia and in particular hate
speech against children in migration.

Taking into account that recently
arrived children might not have acquired sufficient skills and competences to
successfully integrate in society they should be provided with guidance,
support and opportunities for continuing education and training. Early and
effective access to inclusive, formal education, including early childhood
education and care, is one of the most important and powerful tools for the
integration of children, fostering language skills, social cohesion and mutual
understanding. At this point, it is very important to mention that training of
the teachers that work with children of diverse backgrounds is a key element
for integration. Timely access to healthcare and an adequate standard of living
are key- factors to the integration of children in the host countries.
Improvement of living conditions, measures to tackle child poverty and to
ensure healthcare (including mental healthcare) provision are critical.
Attention to other dimensions of socialization, including through leisure
activities and sports, is also important. Finally, as is the case for children
in State care who are EU nationals, mechanisms and processes need to be in
place to help prepare children in migration in State care for the transition to
adulthood/leaving care.