The provision of quality guardianship to unaccompanied children is key if they are to receive an appropriate level of care and protection and if they are to achieve their full potential.

Quality guardians can play complementary roles of ensuring that all decisions are made in the best interests of the child and contributing to the provision of safe and effective decision making by State actors.

The European Commission has highlighted the crucial role guardians play in guaranteeing access to rights and safeguarding the interests of unaccompanied children regardless of whether or not they apply for asylum. Further, the Commission acknowledges the positive role guardians can play in protecting children from traffickers and otherwise going missing from their care settings.

The Commission wishes to see guardianship systems strengthened, particularly around the number of qualified guardians and the timescales for their appointment to work directly with children. The Commission also believes that there is a need to share good practice and guidance among guardianship authorities and the guardians who are engaged by them.

ProGuard aimed to strengthen and professionalise guardianship in Europe by creating a practical toolkit including a train-the-trainer methodology, in order to:

  • support the daily work of guardians;
  • address the differences in the quality and sustainability of guardianship within EU;
  • contribute to common standards and consistency of practice.

The toolkit delivers previously tried and tested training modules and tools and best practices in a structured way. Specifically, the toolkit helps guardians in their efforts to work in the best interest of the child, by strengthening their professionalism, mandate and position. It will also help to identify and apply durable solutions in the best interest of the child.

ProGuard was co-funded by the EU and led by Nidos in the Netherlands. The partners include METAdrasi (EL), Danish Red Cross (DK), Jugendhilfe Süd-Niedersachsen (DE), Orphans court Latvia (LV), Amici dei Bambini (IT), Centre for missing and exploited children (HR), Child Circle (BE), National Institute for Health and Welfare (FI), Missing Children Europe and The Council of the Baltic Sea States. The project ran from October 2017 to 2019.

This activity was a key follow-up on the Unaccompanied Children conference from December 2016, which developed The Stockholm Conclusions Promoting Good Practices in Protecting Migrant and Asylum Seeking Children, especially Unaccompanied Children, and Finding Solutions for the Children, Families, Societies and States – December 2016.