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Migrant Children and Communities in a Transforming Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MiCREATE (Migrant Children and Communities in a Transforming Europe)

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

The overall objective of the MiCREATE project - Migrant Children and Communities in a Transforming Europe is to stimulate the inclusion of diverse groups of migrant children by adopting a child-centred approach to migrant children’s integration on educational and policy levels. The project stems from the fact that European countries and their education systems encounter manifold challenges due to the growing ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity and thereby our specific objectives are:
• to improve knowledge about children’s experiences of life in new social environments
• to explore school peer dynamics through the scope of the integration processes
• to build on the capacity of teachers and educational staff for diversity managing
• to develop child-centred tools for stimulating migrant integration
• to design child-centred integration policy recommendations for diverse decision-makers

Many children are actively engaged in creating their lives and future for themselves, but they soon become bound by what adults think is their best interest. In this regard, the project highlights that the existing social and political order does not offer enough autonomous space where children can independently speak for themselves. Our aim is to create space where migrant children of all ages are able to communicate and share their experiences after arriving in a receiving society. The child centred perspective taken in the MiCREATE project is making a step further in approaching the children’s well-being and needs by recognising them as agents and active participants in social interactions and as autonomous individuals. Children are seen as experts of their own lives, skilful communicators, right-holders, and meaning-makers as well as actors and knowers who can speak for themselves. This approach is shifting the focus from the adult-centric perspective to children’s experience and putting the children first.
The first year of the MiCREATE has been primarily dedicated to:
- the overview and analysis of what has been already done in the field of integration of migrant children in Europe and beyond,
- the research of the European recipient communities,
- the research of educational communities and school systems in selected European countries.

Within the first set, the analysis of existing research, literature, and good practices took place. General Cross-disciplinary Report was produced presenting key contemporary debates about child migrants, their educational context, and current understandings of integration. The Report on Good Practices from an Institutional Perspective & Mapping of Innovative Approaches was realized produced a sample list from the key 6 study countries (Austria, Denmark, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK), with snapshots of case studies based on best practices and innovative approaches to integration through adaptive practices, social interactions, inter-cultural practices through bottom-up approaches, and also implicit ways of integration. The Report on EU Policy Framework: Migrant Children and Integration through Education includes the main features of the contemporary EU policy framework on the integration of migrants and migrant children with particular emphasis on education. The Review of Methodologies, Indicators, Factors and Measurement Concepts of Integration of Migrant Children and Child-centred Approach provides key findings on the methodological concerns and challenges of involving children and young people in social research on migration and integration, using multi-method, multi-site and multi-country approach. Finally, the Child-centred Approach across Disciplines report was produced with the analysis of child-centred approach in different scientific disciplines, such as social science, law, policy, integration policy, etc. addressing the question of its conceptualization.

The research of the recipient communities was grounded in a position that the context of host societies is one of the most important characteristics affecting integration processes and provides an important way to understand the experiences of migrant groups in a certain country. Our main objectives were to gather quantitative data on the diverse groups of migrant children in different settings, to review national integration policies and initiatives, to collect data about the topical challenges of the integration of migrant children identified in participant countries, to evaluate the extent to which a child-centred approach is taken into account in policies concerning the integration of migrant children and their families, to assess the stakeholders’ needs, identify gaps for both programme development and further research, and to evaluate to what extent the stakeholders are ready to introduce change. Within this research, several National Reports on Reception Communities were produced. They present the structure of migrant communities in receiving countries, including existing datasets, statistics, and other quantitative data. Additionally, they cover reviews of integration policies, initiatives, and best practices on a national level. Moreover, reports include data basing on the fieldwork with experts (officials, policy-makers, social workers, and NGO representatives), which presents data about the topical challenges of integration of migrant children identified in participant countries, assess stakeholder needs, identify gaps for programme development, and further research. Political and media discourse analysis and review of public opinion was made presenting secondary analysis review in order to gain insight into public attitudes towards migration issues, stereotypes, and ways of representing migrants and refugees.

The last research of the educational community members and school systems in selected European countries covered the analysis of the complex relationships between members of the educational community and migrant children. It includes educational staff views, their knowledge, perceptions, attitudes, and opinions regarding the integration and evaluation of the existing practices for the integration of migrant children in European educational systems.
This project is distinctively innovative in its conceptual, methodological, and theoretical aspects, particularly with the regard to:
- approaching migrant children integration through child-centred perspective
- using exploratory and participatory research methods
- translating child-centred interpretation into a policy framework
- developing the framework for child-centred migrant integration policy

In our project, we were the first to analyze child-centredness from a conceptual, political, and empirical standpoint. We also organized the conference on child-centred approach involving researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. In addition, we introduced child-centred approach in all the already done research work. We try to locate children’s needs, expectations, opinions, and desires. Our aim is to identify what integration means for children. Additionally, a child-centred approach will be promoted by monitoring all research activities with children, final outputs for facilitating integration, and policy briefs by Child Advisory Boards. Gained knowledge provides the ground for the policy briefs in which we translate child-centred interpretation into the policy framework.