Building on ESN’s seminar on ‘Migrant children and young people: social inclusion and transition to adulthood’, the Nordic Welfare Centre is organising a Nordic Day on May 27 during the European Social Services Conference in Seville, on the topic of early intervention for successful social inclusion of migrant children and refugee families. About 200,000 asylum-seeking children and young people arrived in Nordic countries between 2011 and 2016. While most of the children arrived with their families, there was also a high number of unaccompanied children. Public social services have the statutory duty of supporting unaccompanied children, and the Nordic Welfare Centre has collected a number of best practices from the Nordic countries and developed an extensive knowledge on the topic of social inclusion of migrant children and families.

A project at the Nordic Day, led by Kristin Marklund and Anna Gärdegård, will highlight the role of early intervention for a successful inclusion in host communities. Evidence shows that early intervention is cost effective and yields high social returns for public authorities. For example, the project MindSpring implemented by the Danish Refugee Council succeeded in helping migrant parents understand and start a successful integration into the Danish society. Newly arrived parents are welcomed by representatives of MindSpring who were themselves migrants and speak their language. These meetings address important aspect of identity, Danish culture, Danish laws, stress and trauma, as well as challenges of child education.

Social inclusion of migrant children and young people is key in developing inclusive and diverse communities. In 2017, ESN developed a questionnaire and organised a seminar in Stockholm to discuss with more than 160 participants about the state of play of in international, European, national and local policies concerning unaccompanied children and young migrants. The seminar outcomes formed the basis for the ESN report ‘Promoting the social inclusion of migrant children and young people: the duty of social services’ published last January.

Public social services have extensive duties and responsibilities when it comes to the care for children and young people. We hope all delegates will take the opportunity to learn and share good practice and examples from the Nordic countries on Nordic Day.