in Europe

Consulting Children in the Process of Return


June 2012 Saint Petersburg, Russia: Two tranings on case management of Moldovan children were held in Moscow in March and in St. Petersburg in June, during which managers of placement centres acquired methodology on including the child’s opinion into their decision making processes.
While originally the training was meant for psychologists of the transit centres, based on the request of the Ministry of Social Protection, first the directors of 34 centres were brought together to sensitise them about the issue of child consultation. In this context, the event had more an awareness raising role, rather than being a training.
The workshop used case studies of Moldovan children to generate discussion and group work and to help participants see the problems of children – and how their needs can be met by adults, while the methodology – developed by Tdh and the experts – was also presented.
As part of the methodology a Toolkit and a Professionals’ Guide was also written to help professionals on how and what to ask children – how to gain their opinion about their future residence in the Russian Federation, in Moldova (or in another country). The guide includes a child’s information chart, possible questions to ask a child about their past, present and future, but also proposes different games to be played in order to assess the child’s mental state and his/her wishes.
The issue covered was quite new for participants but at the same time, raised much interest, and has even been discussed in mass media. The event was highly appreciated due to the provision of the concrete tools that can be used by specialists. Another strong point mentioned by the participants of the training was the possibility to replicate the methodology to other children, not only Moldovan ones.
The trainers – who are well known professionals in Russia – were confronted with a lot of prejudice regarding migrant children knowing that the best interest of the child principle is not given important consideration in practice. Rather than involving the child in the process, specialists in charge tend to consider returns as a formal, administrative decision.
Despite the high interest of participants it remains evident that these activities were just the first step in ensuring the voice of child is heard and given the consideration it deserves. (MS)