Children in migration, child helplines and data

By Grier Hall

In 2019, our project ‘WeListen’, funded by the European Commission, held a Community of Practice to exchange knowledge on how child helplines can best support children and young people in migration.

This exchange took place online and in-person during a two-day workshop and discussion. The Community of Practice brought together representatives from child helplines and organisations working in the field of children and youth in migration in the European Union.  Representatives came from Hope for Children (Cyprus), Smile of the Child (Greece), Brave Phone (Croatia), Save the Children Sweden, Save the Children Spain, Radboud University, Missing Children Europe and Child Helpline International’s #Youth, staff, interns and volunteers.

During this Community of Practice, participants discussed terminology, data collection, how to reach children and youth in migration, practical skills for counsellors, partnerships needed for integrated support systems, and how to build effective partnerships.

While discussing data collection, participants mentioned the lack of available data. One reason for this lack of data might be because of a data categorisation issue — when a child helpline either does not record whether a particular contact is in migration out of confidentiality reasons, or simply does not know that this is the child or young person’s circumstances. Another possibility might be that children in migration are less likely to contact a non-specialised child helpline because they have limited knowledge about the child helpline’s availability, how to contact it, and the services it can offer. Finally, it may be the case that children and young people in migration have different communication and support needs than children in the general population. Child helplines may not have the necessary resources to adapt to these specific needs, making them less accessible for this group. These issues can be addressed, and a good starting point is to follow these 5 good practices to better support children and young people in migration.

Although the data was limited in our 2018 data collection, the Community of Practice discussion provided some qualitative data that helped shed light on the reasons why the target group makes contact with child helplines and the obstacles they are facing. Are you are interested to know more? You can read our 2018 Data Report here.