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Supporting child refugees and their families

Millions of children around the world have been displaced due to war and conflict. Their right to care and protection is critical. Everyone can help in the humanitarian response to the needs of children and families. There is much that can be learned from what children and adults have shared of their experiences of war, conflict and emergencies caused by natural disasters, and from international guidance which addresses needs as well as rights of children and adults in emergencies including conflict.

This resource is designed to help people in Scotland working with and supporting children and families in professional, voluntary or personal capacity. This focuses on child protection and safeguarding, supporting mental and physical wellbeing including trauma, and the needs of children who require care.

Here you will find, all in one place, information, resources, organisations, guidance and the international frameworks to understand the rights of children. This includes information on what needs to be considered when supporting children in care and children who have been displaced due to war and conflict, have been separated from their families, and may have arrived in the UK on their own.

Information from the Scottish Government on arriving in Scotland from Ukraine, supporting people from Ukraine, and up-to-date information on visa schemes, can be found here.

Supporting wellbeing

Resources from the UK Trauma Council to help to nurture and protect children and young people following trauma.

Guidance. A welcome pack from the Scottish Government, presenting a welcoming Scotland where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive.

A toolkit from the Scottish Refugee Council for public authorities and/or civil society organisations who are creating or developing direct services to newly-recognised refugees.

Training from NHS Education for Scotland to support all sectors of the workforce to embed and sustain trauma informed practice.

Resources from Young Minds to support the mental health needs asylum seeking and refugee children.

Guidance from CELCIS on understanding trauma and addressing the needs of children and young people affected by it through trauma-informed care practices.

Advice and resources from Education Scotland on discussing war and conflict with children and young people.

Resources from the British Red Cross for teachers on helping children and young people to challenge assumptions about migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and to develop mutual respect, empathy and understanding.

Resources from Education Scotland for professionals and families to help develop an understanding of adverse and traumatic experiences in childhood and understand their impact.

Advice, guidance and resources from the Anna Freud Centre for parents and carers supporting a child or young person who may be struggling with poor mental health.

Advice and guidance from the UNODC and the University of Manchester, for parents who have lived through war and trauma on how they can help themselves feel better, and how they can help their children in difficult times.

Guidance from UNICEF for parents on talking to children about conflict and war.

Child protection and safeguarding

Resources from CELCIS on child protection and related areas, for those working to ensure that the lives of babies, children and young people are protected from abuse, harm and neglect.

Advice and guidance from CELCIS on who to contact if you are worried about a child.

If you think you need advocacy support or independent legal advice, the following organisations can help:

Advice from Clan Childlaw for anyone with a legal question about children’s rights in Scotland.

Advice from the Scottish Child Law Centre on all aspects of Scots law relating to children and young people.

These free courses provide an opportunity for those who work with, care for, or have an interest in supporting children and families to learn more about their needs:

This free course from CELCIS and the University of Strathclyde entitled Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children, provides an understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities faced by children moving alone and is designed to inform the improvement of policy, practice and delivery of support services that uphold children’s rights and meet their best interests. The course provides examples of promising practice and is available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

This free course from The International Federation of Social Workers entitled Educating for Peace - Social Work in the Context of War and Conflict, is for social work practitioners exploring different dimensions of social work in the context of conflict and war, bringing together international researchers, practitioners, and people with lived experience.

Guidance on the international framework

Hague Conference on Private International Law

Information on the cross-border protection and intercountry adoption of children deprived of their family environment due to the armed conflict in Ukraine. 

United Nations General Assembly, Resolution A/RES74/121 on the Rights of the Child

This Resolution outlines States’ commitments to provide care and protection, and access to services and support for children without parental care, including children who are refugees, migrants, unaccompanied or separated from their families. Of particular relevance are paragraphs 9, 12, 13, 14, 37, 38, 39. 

Joint General Comment (2017) on the general principles regarding the human rights of children in the context of international migration

This General Comment provides guidance which outlines the appropriate measures that should be taken by States to ensure compliance with the obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to fully protect the rights of children in the context of international migration  

United Nations General Assembly, Resolution A/RES/71/1 (New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants)

This Resolution considers how the international community should best respond to large movements of refugees and migrants, as well as the needs and circumstances of children. Of particular relevance are paragraphs 29, 32, 33, 59, 70, 81 and 82; and Annex I, paragraphs 5 (a) (b) (e); para 6 (b) (c). 

United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

These international standards provide guidance to States on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with specific reference to children in care, or children who are at risk of losing parental care.  

Moving Forward: Implementing the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

This handbook supports the implementation of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children through connection with national policy and direct practice. Chapter 11 addresses care provision abroad and in emergency situations. 

UNCRC General Comment No. 6 (2005) on the treatment of refugee and migrant children outside their country of origin

This General Comment outlines the challenges faced by States in ensuring the rights of unaccompanied and separated children are upheld, and provides guidance on the protection, care and treatment of unaccompanied and separated children.