Each year thousands of children are sent back from the EU to countries from which they fled, alone or together with their families. Until recently, it was unknown if they return to places where they are able to continue their development.
The Monitoring Returned Minors (MRM) research project aimed at developing a monitoring and evaluation instrument that contributes to more sustainable and safer return of minors. The project was initiated by HIT Foundation on behalf of the European Commission and was executed in close collaboration with Nidos, Micado Migration, the University of Groningen and local researchers. It started in November 2012 and culminated in a presentation of the outcomes in the European Parliament in February 2014.
The project started from the conviction that independent, systematic, methodology-based monitoring of returned minors would enable better decision-making and assistance for individual children. But first and foremost, it was seen as an instrument that would lead to return policies that are better tuned toward the needs of returning minors.
The MRM model has taken a systematic approach:
- It is based on the Children’s Rights Convention (CRC), ratified by all member states. The CRC articles were translated into 14 conditions which determine the child’s rearing conditions and its developmental perspective;
- It uses 4 questionnaires to measure positive as well as negative influences on development;
- The 14 conditions are translated into country-specific local standards (baseline);
- The instrument is self-improving: the more used, the better conclusions and validation.
MRM shows that it is possible to monitor the well being of children upon return to improve policies and practical assistance in a methodological and structured way, against limited costs. The model is applicable in any country of origin, however the baseline (the interpretation of the 14 development conditions in the local context) has to be developed separately for each country of origin. More cases improve the instrument in general as well as the country-specific baseline. MRM does not require fixed structures for implementation and is relatively easy to implement.