Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors is a pioneering initiative for political planning and implementation, assessed by International and European Organizations as a best practice in the field of child protection.
The Secretariat was established 2.5 years ago, on the initiative of the Prime Minister himself. His main goal was to ensure that no unaccompanied child is left alone, without the protection and care of the state. Since then, the imprint of our work is visible in data reports on the safe housing of thousands of children, their institutional and legal protection, their psychosocial support, and their inclusion in education and vocational training, all necessary for their smooth transition to adulthood.
In summary, during 2022 the Special Secretariat managed 5,660 accommodation requests of unaccompanied minors, ensuring their safe housing in accommodation centers and supervised apartments for semi-independent living, with a maximum occupancy of 2,500 accommodation places.
At the same time, through a) the continual operation of the helpline, b) the mobile units acting in the field and c) the info desk of the National Emergency Response Mechanism, we managed to locate and provide accommodation to approximately 3,000 children who were living in precarious conditions or were homeless inland.
In addition, the voluntary relocation program continued its actions, through which more than 1,300 children were relocated and now live safely in 13 European countries.
Moreover, in 2022, the adoption of the law on Guardianship, as promoted by the Special Secretariat, was of decisive importance for the child protection system in our country. Already from the beginning of 2023, 180 guardianship mandated persons and coordinators will be recruited across the territory, so that every unaccompanied child has a stable reference person, who will ensure their best interest and well-being. At the same time, the establishment of the Standard Operating Procedures and Licensing Framework of Accommodation Centers, the National Registry of Unaccompanied Minors, and the institutionalization of accompaniments for unaccompanied children within the country, ensure an even more comprehensive child protection framework.
Also, promoting the mental health of both unaccompanied minors and professionals who work with children is a priority for us. In this context, the participation of approximately 900 frontline professionals in monthly trainings on mental health issues, as well as the supervision of all staff in the accommodation centers is ensured.
Finally, we promoted the development of the Mentorship project, where former unaccompanied minors act supportively, as positive role models, for the children who live in the accommodation facilities.
Our fundamental goal is the substantial integration of unaccompanied children into Greek society through their access to the school, the provision of supportive non-formal education, the interconnection of local agencies to coordinate integration actions throughout the country, but also the creation of appropriate tools for the development of children’s professional skills.