Within the framework of an integrated policy on a Flemish policy level regarding the well-being of child refugees who arrived with or without a family in the context of the 2015 refugee crisis, Solentra has been receiving financial support from the Department of Youth Welfare: the objective is to provide trauma-related support to this target group and support for professionals involved with this target group, across the whole of Flanders.

There is still a huge demand in the area for a specialised provision of trauma therapy services for the target group and for professional support for the members of society involved with this group. The flow of officially recognised refugees following the refugee crisis is still very much underway. Some target groups keep coming, such as unaccompanied minors and Palestinians. The reunification of families also contributes to this continued influx.

In 2017, 15,373 applications for international protection were filed; 2018 saw an ever increasing number of such applications. 46% of those who are granted protection is a minor or adolescent (up to 25 years of age).

Flanders receives just under half of all applicants (from 43 to 49%) and, in the period from 2016 – 2018, there was a continuously increasing inflow into Flanders from Wallonia once official refugee status had been granted, with 50 to 64% of protected persons choosing to live in Flanders.

Family reunification is another cause of the inflow: in 2016, 50,928 initial residence titles were issued on the basis of family reunification: more than 50% of these were issued to family members from asylum applicants’ countries of origin. 3259 initial residence titles were issued by the Belgian State to family members to beneficiaries of international protection (resettlement), with Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan at the top of the list of recipients.

Furthermore, legislation was amended by way of a ruling from the Court of Justice from 12/04/2018, which stipulated that, within the framework of the directive on family reunification,  the time at which an application for asylum is filed shall count as the decisive moment regarding one’s qualification “as an isolated minor”. The Department of Alien Affairs will have to adjust its policy in accordance with this, which is likely to cause an increase in the number of family requests submitted by non-accompanied minors.

Target group:

  • Children and their families, officially recognised refugees or those granted subsidiary protection who live within Solentra’s operating range.
  • Unaccompanied minors who are staying in a reception centre that has been organised by the Flemish Community or who live alone. An age limit of up to 25 has been imposed, taking into account the vulnerability of these youths and an often difficult family reunification process.

Core tasks:

  1. provision of direct (trauma) treatment and therapy for the above-stated target group
  2. organisation of case-based support of, and consultation and liaison sessions for, professionals from the field of youth welfare, the educational sector and all actors who contribute to the integration process that are involved with the target group; this service is intended to help them in their work with the target group and to work together to initiate a treatment plan.

The above-listed services we provide are always to be understood as complementary to the standard services provided in Flanders in the field of mental health (mental health centres, child and youth psychiatry networks, ‘Een kind, een plan’ networks,…) if said services are not accessible to the identified target group; all services provided are done so in line with Solentra’s vision and mission. The services we offer are organised in those areas of Flanders where they are needed the most, and the performance of said services is always conducted in close collaboration and consultation with other actors involved in the process, particularly with other services from the healthcare, welfare and education sector that are officially recognised or licensed by the Flemish Community, and which organise shelter, guidance or other services for unaccompanied minors of child refugees with a non-temporary residence status living within the operating range of the initiator. The specific design of the services we provide is created in close consultation with the Department of Youth Welfare.

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