Foster Care Project

Foster Care Project

The orgins of the project

In 2015, more than 5000 children and teenagers have been identified as UM in Belgium. Among these, the field actors realized an increase of a number of children under 15 years of age. For some of them, life in a collective host center is not a most adapted alternative. It’s therefore necessary to offer a family environment to those children. Our team works in collaboration with Youth Aid and Fedasil in order to give them a structural and safe family environment, a wonderful support for integration within the Belgian society.

Giving a foster care family to a young refugee, it is enabling him/her to grow and develop in a safe environment and to bring them to be in contact again with adults even though they might have been most of times failing images (persecutors, passing agents, etc.). It is also to maximize their chances of integration within the society by teaching them a language, Belgian cultural and societal codes, the whole being facilitated by a stable family life.

The project covers Brussels and Wallonia.

Concerning young people

Children for whom it would be necessary to make available a home structure hosting have been made known to us by tutors and social assistants of federal host centers of Youth Aid. Let’s mention that for now, the majority of the information that we get concerns boys from 12 to 17 years.

After a notification, we meet and talk with a tutor, interveners of the host center and as well with the child. One of the most important subjects to treat with the child concerns the family understanding: what does family life mean for him/her? How does a foster care family present itself? Etc. We discuss also about the type of family that would receive him /her.

After that first meeting with our service, the young person can discuss later with the tutor or with a center intervener about all the subjects which have been mentioned. In a second period, we present to the young person the profile of a family that we think could be adequate to host him/her.

Setting up a foster care project

We organize many times per year information sessions in order to present the project to the families who could be interested in hosting a young refugee.

After those sessions, a preparation work starts with families who wish to be committed into a project. During many interviews, we get information concerning availability of the family and its motivations concerning the project, and also about the flexibility of its functioning and the family history of the adults within it.

Following that process, the family and/or the team can take the decision to postpone the hosting or to redirect the project towards another type of accompaniment (sponsorship project for example)

At the end of the project setup, the foster care family to be is invited to submit a photo album for presentation which will be given to the young person before their first meeting. Specific formation modules are also organized in order to give maximum tools to families on different themes relating to hosting a young refugee.

From the first meeting to effective hosting

We start by a step of « theory matching » during which we study different profiles of the young people and the foster care families in order to find a child and a family which seem to us to be adequate for each other. Then we present the family profile to the child and vice-versa.

Then we organize a first meeting between the young person and the future foster care family within the premises of Mentor-Escale Brussels or Namur. Other meetings have been organized later in collaboration with the center interveners and the family in agreement with the tutor then a pre-hosting period starts. This period end by an evaluation that will lead, if suitable, to an effective hosting.

The team

The psycho educative and social team in charge of the project is made of a project coordinator, specialized in themes regarding Unaccompanied Foreign Minors, and psychologists and social assistants from the service for placing children into families of the sector for accompaniment to the UMs.

To become a foster care family

You wish to engage yourself on middle or long term and become foster care family in full time for a Foreign Unaccompanied Minor, thanks for filling in the form via the following link:

Filling in the form:

You will be soon invited to a collective information session in Brussels or Namur.

Testimony of Rudy van de Wijnkele, tutor UM.

To be a hosting family is to give to the young refugee love and security, to welcome him/her as your own child, to respect him /her in his/her difference.

Mentor-Escale Foster Care Project responds absolutely to the needs of those young people. Each young person has his/her background which is difficult most of the time. The family project for the UM is of great help for those teenagers in general.

A minor who took the risk of breaking his/her roots and face a potentially dangerous journey, isn’t willing to return. A child who comes back without having succeeded is most likely unconsidered or in a worse case, rejected » (Geneviève Lefebvre, Children’s judge in Paris).

A foster care family is definitely the better accompaniment in their journey. At first, I was able to realize that a welcome into a family took effect after few weeks by causing a clear orientation of the young person towards his own future, a remarkable self-determination. In my opinion, no host center can equal to a foster care family in terms of accompaniment. A young person who is welcomed into a family comes out of his/her daily usual life and is confronted to our culture, our language and our way of living… To be foster care family, it’s to help a child live in a family, to give him/her love and security, to welcome him/her as your own child, to respect him/her in their difference. A foster care family is for each child a network and a supporting point.

The work which Mentor-Escale team does deserves all our encouragement. Mentor-Escale has deployed since years all its know-how around the isolated foreign unaccompanied minors. The approach of the “Families” team is very professional; during interviews, it’s about to enable a young person understand what is expected from him/her, where to invest their efforts in priority, to measure and be conscious about difficulties and how to renounce on certain points in each choice. The working method of the team seems to me very efficient. The wellbeing and the needs of the young person are always on the first range with a lot of care and respect to his/her individual rhythm. I can only express my appreciation for the endeavor and commitment of each team member.