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Children Hybrid Integration: Learning Dialogue as a way of Upgrading Policies of Participation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CHILD-UP (Children Hybrid Integration: Learning Dialogue as a way of Upgrading Policies of Participation)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

CHILD-UP (Children Hybrid Integration: Learning Dialogue as a way of Upgrading Policies of Participation) addresses the issue of children with migrant background in Europe through an innovative perspective, based on the concepts of children agency and hybrid cultural integration. This project puts children’s agency at the centre, i.e. children select, combine and synthetize, in personal and original way, cultural elements of originating country and hosting country, of generational discourse, of local and global perspectives. The project proposes a view of cultural “combination” - the hybrid cultural integration- acted by children who shape their authentic inclusion strategy at school and in the local community of reference. Children are supported in this exercise of agency by school staff, families and community facilitators. CHILD-UP studies the current practices at school and in the local contexts of seven EU countries with different migrant communities presence and profiles, aiming at identifying, analysing and disseminating evidence of good practices. The project is supported by a broad and intense involvement of stakeholders at the local and international level, discussing the analytical and operational approach, multiplying good practice elements across countries and influencing public policies. CHILD-UP will offer the school community first the opportunity to be actively involved in the research, and then a battery of tools to reflect and act for a successful inclusion of children with migrant background. This would improve not only the migrant children condition, but that of all children, families and local communities. CHILD-UP will offer new evidence to the research community through substantial field research and impact evidence analysis of current policies, thus supporting both policy makers and civil society in establishing more integrated and effective inclusion policies, benefitting not only migrant children but the whole local contexts.
During the first year (2019), research activities regarded Work Packages 3 and 4. For what concerns WP3, the Consortium accomplished the first part of the review of the policies and practices of integration of children with migrant background in education and social protection systems in the seven European countries participating in the research: Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom (coordination: University of Liege). The second and final part of this has been completed at the beginning of 2020, with the further contribution on legislation provided by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law. For what concerns WP4, the Consortium accomplished a survey involving children, parents, teachers, social workers and interpreters/mediators in the seven countries (coordination: University of Senjaoki). The country reports were written between December 2019 and January 2020. The final report, edited by the leading partner, will be completed at the beginning of March 2020. All research partners worked on the guidelines for interviews with children, teachers and professionals foreseen in Work Package 5 (coordination: Jagiellonian University) and the Consortium produced the guidelines for the evaluative analysis of activities in schools foreseen in Work Package 6 (coordination: University of Modena and Reggio Emilia).
The working group on communication, dissemination and impact (CDI-WG) coordinated the construction of the website (www.child-up.eu) and the dissemination and exploitation plan. The CDI-WG constituted the International Stakeholder Committee, which met for the first time in September 2019. The CDI-WG also coordinated the constitution of the seven Local Stakeholder Committees, which all research partners implemented and involved in the project, and the organisation of dissemination meetings at local level. Finally, this group has developed a social media strategy to improve the dissemination and enlarge the impact of the project’s future outcomes.
The management of the project (Work Package 2), coordinated by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, was accomplished through the realization of two Consortium meetings, the delivery of the reports, intense long distance collaboration, periodic Skype talks among the partners, and production of a data management plan. The coordinator also implemented Work Package 1 (Ethics), with appointment of the ethics advisor, provision of ethical guidelines, approvals of ethical committees and provision of information sheets and consent forms for all subjects and phases of research.
First, CHILD-UP collected and integrated important information about policies and quantitative data. The report for WP3, on policies and political context, highlighted several key issues: (1) gaps between international agreements and country level policy and practice in terms of the rights and treatment of migrant children; (2) conflation of security concerns with immigration and integration issues; (3) anti-immigrant sentiment; (4) increased requirements and responsibilities on the part of newcomers; (5) impact of housing for migrants on children’s wellbeing and school performance. The WP4 survey involved 292 classrooms and 43 social service units and reception centers in seven European countries. Children with migrant background, parents and professionals were engaged in reflecting on items concerning family conditions, language use, participation and social relations enhancing children’s agency, school problems and ways of understanding integration, observing the possible differences about migrant background and non-migrant background children, gender differences and age differences.
Second, CHILD-UP consolidated important networks of stakeholders at local and international level. These networks will allow, from the beginning of 2020 on, to enhance awareness of the project aims, approaches, activities, and positive attitudes and interest in following the project developments. The CDI-WG will activate the stakeholders to: (1) act as multipliers of results; (2) be active contributors in the research work as facilitators in the access to further sources; (3) contribute to the evaluation of activities; (4) cooperate in media coverage; (5) engage in influencing policy agendas.
In 2020, the Consortium will continue the field research foreseen in WP5 and WP6, with interviews to professionals, focus groups with children, video and audio recording of school activities, to understand the conditions of children’s exercise of agency and hybrid integration. In 2021, the Consortium will produce materials for innovation: archived research materials about best practices in schools; tools for professionals’ training; guidelines for future activities; tools for self-evaluation of these activities. Starting from the first research reports, the Consortium will also intensify dissemination at European, national and local level.
Potential impacts concern: (1) migrant children’s ability to change their conditions of integration; (2) reflection on assumptions and tendencies in institutions with the possibility of imagining new ones, with particular reference to the gendered structures that affect integration; (3) application of dialogic methods in educational institutions; (4) development of synergetic connections between schools and their social contexts; (5) stimulation of the adoption of public policies that are coherent with the findings of the research.
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