Reception of UAMs in families is not common in Austria. Practice with accommodating the minors differs from federated state to federated state. The states have their own legislation on youth care and basic welfare for asylum seekers. Authorities in the different federated states do not tend to work together on the issue of UAMs. Actors in the field seem to be restricted by this framework, though it does present opportunities and possibilities to develop what is necessary to address the needs of UAMs.
Stakeholders do not see the general situation in Austria concerning foster care for UAMs as an overnight change, given that integration of refugees and an awareness of the main issues concerning them are still difficult topics in Austria. But they are beginning to think of ways to realize a more individual approach towards the reception of UAMs, with foster care being one of the options considered.
At the moment, Graz is the only city in Austria that accommodates UAMs in foster families.
The foster care organization Pflegefamilie Austria more or less coincidently was asked by the city of Graz to accommodate some UAMs in 2012. They have six unaccompanied children aged 13-15 living with foster families (children over 16 will be accommodated by Caritas and not in foster families). A distinction is being made between children that are allowed to stay in Austria and those that have to return, as the organization strongly believes that a child should be able to settle and integrate. Although Pflegefamilie Austria is quite satisfied with the results and did even manage to provide one foster family of the same cultural background, it is not aiming or requested to expand this approach.
a:pfl alternative pflegefamilie gmbh / Pflegeelternverein Steiermark
Schweizerhaus, Hilmteichstraße 110, 8010 Graz
+43 316 822 433
Another good practice is taking place in Salzburg, where Kinder- und Jugendanwaltschaft (Kija) is preparing a project on accommodating UAMs in foster families. Kija is the ombudsoffice for children existing in every federated state in Austria, and looks at the functioning of the youth care system and advises on changes to the system where necessary. A promising development is the first placement (of a 16-year old Afghan boy) in a foster family in Salzburg in August 2014.
The member of the federated state council in Salzburg who is responsible for integration embraces the idea of foster care for UAMs. She has made a proposal for a nationwide approach and urged the federated state of Salzburg to investigate if it can be organized within the state.
Kinder- und Jugendanwaltschaft (kija) Salzburg
+43 662 430 550