National focus groups in Austria

The FORUM partner FICE organised in April two focus group with Unaccompanied Migrants Children in Wien.
Youth from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan had the chance to express their voices on foster care; youth were between 16 and 17 years old, male and they were coming from different Care Facilities.

Although some of the older young men were concerned about curfew in the evenings and potential limitation to their freedom, they all long for the structure of a family and they all agreed that living with a foster family would be a viable option.
Most of the participants still have their own family or relatives, in Austria or in their country of origin. Therefore, the participants do not seek to replace their own family, but as foster parents are concerned, what they wish for explicitly are Austrian families, their main focus being integration; they want to be part of the Austrian culture and make connections to Austrian friends. Connecting to a broad local social network of Austrians turned out to be important for all, both for learning the language and culture as well as for opening future possibilities.

Furthermore, the foster families should be aware of the meaning of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and have consideration for the UAM’s background and reasons why they had to leave their Countries of origin in the first place.
They believe that the biological families would be glad and happy for their child’s opportunity To put it in the words of one of our participants: “A child will always be a mothers child, no matter where it lives or resides.”
Sonja Radler, FICE staff who conducted the focus group, stated that she has seen a huge difference in the needs of UAMs compared to ‘austrian foster children’. The goal is not to find a ‘new and better family’, but to find the ideal condition to integrate well into our society. Those conditions are not met in a residential community, a refugee camp, or alone. But they are met in a foster family, that is why we see great potential in this project and I am glad the UAM’s themselves see this as well.