Safeguarding Unaccompanied Migrant Minors from going Missing by Identifying Best Practices and Training Actors on Interagency Cooperation

The project Safeguarding Unaccompanied Migrant Minors from going Missing by Identifying Best Practices and Training Actors on Interagency Cooperation (SUMMIT), launched in October 2014, is co-funded by the EU under the Pilot Project “Analysis of reception, protection and integration policies for unaccompanied minors in the EU”. SUMMIT addresses how the issue of the disappearance of an unaccompanied child is tackled in different Member States and promotes successful strategies and behaviours related to the prevention and response to these disappearances. The project specifically looked to combine the experience of both the actors which primarily deal with the care of unaccompanied children and those which focus on disappearances of children, including law enforcement and hotlines for missing children, and from that combination examine how to cooperate better and on what issues.

Best practice and key challenges for interagency cooperation to safeguard unaccompanied migrant children from going missing

 This is an in-depth study on the issue of the  disappearance of unaccompanied migrant  children, conducted in Belgium, Cyprus,  Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the United  Kingdom. The aim of this research is to identify  good practices and key challenges in inter-  agency cooperation in the prevention of, and response to, unaccompanied children who go missing from reception centres and other types of care. While several actors are involved in the situation of unaccompanied children and missing children, this research investigates specifically the cooperation between members of three stakeholders’ groups: law enforcement agencies, carers (guardians, social services and reception centre workers) and hotlines for missing children. Four area of action were explored, namely:

> Prevention of disappearances
> Response to disappearances
> After care of an unaccompanied child who returned or was found after disappearing
> Training

An Executive Summary of the report, collecting the main results of the research in the four aforementioned area, can be found at the beginning of the document, p.12-23.


Practical guidance on preventing and responding to unaccompanied children going missing   

This handbook builds on the results of the SUMMIT report and translates the research findings into practical examples and tools, to improve knowledge and response of professionals on an individual level. It is addressed primarily at all stakeholders who work directly with unaccompanied children or with disappearances of children. The handbook aims at stimulating and disseminating practices on how to better cooperate in prevention, response and after care of missing unaccompanied children.

Key elements of the handbook are as follows:

> Principles which guide actions on disappearances, informed by international and EU law obligations (Chapter 3)

> Understanding unaccompanied migrant children as a specific target group for actions (Chapter 4)

> The Action Perspective: good practices and tools in the area of prevention, response, after-care and training (Chapter 5).

It is recommended that the stakeholders using the handbook share it with their partners and other actors working on cases of (missing) unaccompanied children, to facilitate cooperation. 

A toolkit for frontline professionals

This toolkit collects training material for grassroots professionals working with unaccompanied children, including carers, law enforcement officers and hotlines for missing children. It also includes tools for direct use beyond training, like templates and checklists. The toolkit is available for download in PDF format in English, Italian, Spanish and Greek.

The toolkit can be used as a whole for training on “disappearance of unaccompanied migrant children”, in combination with the handbook and with the training videos, available below. The training material can also be used for training addressing specifically prevention, response or aftercare. The toolkit includes the following tools:

Preventing disappearances of unaccompanied children

1. Unaccompanied children as a specific target group

2. Guiding Principles for Preventing & Responding to Disappearances of Unaccompanied Children

3. Guidelines for professionals working with children on the move on how to build strong relationship with children

4. Assessing the likelihood of an unaccompanied child going missing

5. Template for collection of information on an unaccompanied child

6. Template of actions to be taken in case of obvious concern for or risk of disappearance

Response to a case of a missing unaccompanied child

7. Recommendations for law enforcement officers

8. Template for child(ren seeking parents/family members

9. Template for reporting a disappearance

Aftercare of a previously missing child

10. Aftercare of a previouly missing child




Training Seminar on good practices to prevent and respond to the disappearance of unaccompanied children

62 grassroots professionals from 16 countries participated in this 2-days training. Participants were coming from the law enforcement sectors and were guardians, reception centre operators/social services and operators working at the national hotline for missing children. During the seminar, the SUMMIT Partnership presented the tools developed in the framework of the SUMMIT project. Moreover, participants had access to 4 practical workshops presenting selected examples. Part of the event was also dedicated to examining current challenges in the protection of unaccompanied children in Europe, with key note speakers from the EU Commission and civil society. Find the programme of the event here. Some picture of the event are published here. 


SUMMIT Partners