Improving chances for accompanied children in reception centres for refugees

How can the opportunities of children and families in asylum care be strengthened? This is the question that the Centre for Family Studies has been working on for the past two years at the request of Fedasil and in close cooperation with the Children's Rights Commission. This project is subsidised by the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

In the reception centres, we interviewed almost 150 children, young people, families, social workers and policy staff. This led not only to a vision text on how to better assist children and families in reception centres, but also to a training package to realise this vision for children and families in day-to-day reception.

Creating a safe environment for children

Accompanied children and young people make up almost one third of the applicants for international protection in the reception network. Given the pre-flight and in-flight experiences, it is crucial that reception centres provide a safe environment for children. A safe area is not only to protect them from threats, but also to ensure that their opportunities for development are maximised, and that their resilience is fully recognised and promoted. Research shows that more can be done at the reception centre to offer even more development opportunities to children. Together with partners from the reception network and with refugee families, we are looking for a supported vision on accompanied children in reception. We will then translate this into a training package with which we can further support these children, their families and the social workers.


  1. The first objective is to develop a vision for the guidance and protection of (accompanied) children in the reception network, with a 'child protection, provision and participation policy' as a main component. This vision concerns both guidance and assistance to children in care as well as infrastructural and organisational conditions.  
  2. The second objective is the development and implementation of a bilingual training and information package for the reception centres, which supports them to better guide and protect children, in line with the developed vision. The workbook and training courses are aimed at all sections of the reception network: from care workers and supervisors in the centres to managers, but also to the support and operational services, and to new staff members in the organisations.
  3. In consultation with Fedasil, we will organise a conference at the end of the project, so that the experiences from research, as well as the developed forms, can be shared with our partners and the wider public.


In phase 1, we identify (inter)national visions and good practices in reception centres, as well as the needs of children, parents and social workers. This was done through literature study and exploration of good practices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Finland (both network-wide policies and operational practices) based on interviews and visits, and a number of case studies of reception centres in Flanders and Wallonia with interviews with children, parents of (young) children and staff of reception centres. 

The children were interviewed using a methodology developed by the expertisecentre for family sciences, 'Wortelen in nieuwe aarde' (Rooting in New Earth).

Based on the results of this preliminary research, we developed a policy vision in co-creation with the policy departments of the reception centres, of Fedasil and of interest groups/ NGOs (including the Children's Rights Commission). This was done through a learning network.

In phase 2, the focus is on the operationalisation of the policy vision. We publish a child protection, provision and participation policy for the reception centres. In addition, we develop and organise training, training and intervision sessions in Dutch and French. A workbook is also compiled with special attention to the transferability of the material to the reception network.-

Presentation of vision text

We are be pleased to present the vision text resulting from this study, in Dutch on 16th February 2022, in French on 24th February 2022.

The text came about in co-creation with the reception partners of Fedasil, Red Cross, Caritas, Croix Rouge and with the Children's Rights Commission. The vision text includes the basic conditions and points for attention for a child and family-friendly reception. 

The text is available in Dutch and French:



Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)




January 2020 - June 2022


Researcher: Katia Fournier

Promotor: Dirk Geldof

Co-promotors: Kaat Van Acker, Mieke Groeninck, Patrick Meurs and Claire Wiewauters


Katja Fournier

Telefoon: 02/240.68.40
Locatie: Campus Schaarbeek

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