Ukrainians who have fled their country are allowed to travel to the Netherlands and are entitled to reception and residence in line with the EU Temporary Protection Directive. There are many children among the Ukrainian refugees, including unaccompanied children. These children are vulnerable and in need of extra protection. Several institutions in the Netherlands are responsible for the care and protection of these children. To contribute to proper referral and care, UNICEF the Netherlands has drafted this guidance. It will be updated regularly.
In the Netherlands, unaccompanied minors (‘alleenstaande minderjarige vreemdeling/amv) are legally defined as children from a third country or children who are stateless who arrive in the Netherlands unaccompanied by an adult responsible by law or custom and for as long as they are not effectively taken into the care of such a person, or minors who are left unaccompanied after they entered the Netherlands (EU Family Reunification Directive, article 2(f). Sometimes children are separated from their parents or their previous legal or customary primary caregiver, but accompanied by other family members or caregivers.
Below you will find a detailed step-by-step plan with up-to-date information about where unaccompanied children must be registered and accommodated, and an overview of the responsibilities of different institutions. Most importantly:
· Always register an unaccompanied Ukrainian child with a Dutch municipality. In this way, they are included in the Personal Records Database and kept in sight of the authorities. Current information about the registration can be found here. https://www.rvig.nl/brp/inschrijven-oekrainers-in-de-brp/inschrijving-van-personen-uit-oekraine-in-de-brp
· If the municipality determines that a minor is unaccompanied, Nidos must be contacted immediately. Nidos then conducts an intake with the minor, if possible also remotely with parents, and assesses whether applying for temporary guardianship is appropriate. The municipality can report the minor to Nidos via 088-5011885 or email@example.com.
· Reception for unaccompanied children who are travelling alone, without parents or without other adult caretaker(s) is arranged by Nidos, in consultation with the municipality. If the minor is staying in a host family with adult supervisors, Nidos will report this to the Child Protection Board (RvdK). In this case, the RvdK will carry out a judicial screening of the host family.
The information in this step-by-step plan may change and will be adapted accordingly.
Always register an unaccompanied Ukrainian child with a Dutch municipality (just like all other inhabitants of the Netherlands). In this way, they are included in the Personal Records Database (BRP) and kept in sight of the authorities. Registration in the BRP is also of importance to gain access to a large number of government services such as allowances and benefits. Current information about the registration can be found here.
Please note: After registration in the BRP, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) automatically invites the registered person to submit an asylum application and requests proof for the temporary protection status, which will grant lawful residence in the Netherlands.
When minors are signaled at a municipal reception center, private reception, host families, at the BRP registration, a Humanitair Service Point (HSP) or at another form of reception, it is important to ask the minor if he/she is in the Netherlands together with their father and/or mother. There might also be children who stay with families who are not the official caretakers. Furthermore, for municipalities it is important to take a good look at the passport of the minor, for instance at the surname and illogical age differences.
After the child has been registered, the Child Protection Board will conduct a regular or emergency investigation into the child's situation and determine whether custody should be provided. The Board will identify whether the child is an orphan or whether the child has parents/caretakers. In the first case, if necessary, the Board will provide guardianship/custody in the Netherlands. This will then be carried out by Stichting Nidos or William Schrikker Gezinsvormen.
To make sure that children from Ukraine end up in a safe place, it is important that host households/families are screened and that they meet the quality requirements in the Netherlands. If the minor is staying in a host family with adult supervisors, Nidos will report this to the Child Protection Board (RvdK). In this case, the RvdK will carry out a judicial screening of the host family.
More information regarding the screening can be found here. The screening of host families for children who have fled together with a parent is coordinated via the Red Cross, the Council for Refugees, the Salvation Army, TakecareBnb and NLvoorElkaar
For unaccompanied children, temporary foster care or other official care offers the right protection. Adoption should not take place during or immediately after emergencies. Efforts should be made to reunite children with their families wherever possible. However, this should only be done when reunification is in the best interests of the child. According to Dutch law, adoption is only possible when it is in the best interests of the child. This must be beyond any doubt. Besides that, it must be certain that the child cannot expect any care from his or her own parents. Adopting children involves a strict judicial procedure in which the Child Protection Board is involved. The adopting parents are examined as is the situation of the child, whether caretaking by the biological parents is definitely not possible and what is overall in the best interests of the child.
If the municipality determines that a minor is unaccompanied, Nidos must be contacted immediately. Nidos then conducts an intake with the minor, if possible together with the parents (remotely), and assesses whether applying for temporary guardianship is appropriate. The municipality can report the minor to Nidos via 088-5011885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parental authority means that the legal parent(s) are responsible for raising and taking care of the child. The authority can also (temporarily) rest with someone else or an institution. When temporary custody is provided in the Netherlands, this means that someone else is formally (and temporarily) responsible for raising and taking care of the child. This is necessary if parents cannot be reached, but also if there are signs of human trafficking or sexual exploitation.
Registration according to the former process
The following applies to unaccompanied minors who have been registered at the Child Protection Board (RvdK) in the past months according to the former process:
• If the RvdK has not yet started an investigation, the registration will be transferred to Nidos.
• If the RvdK has already started an investigation, but did not make a decision regarding authority yet, Nidos and the RvdK will consult each other and provide tailor-made solutions.
• Some minors have been registered with the RvdK in the past, for which no temporary guardianship has been requested/granted. When the municipality observes changed circumstances, these minors must be reported to Nidos.
For all children in the Netherlands, reception must be arranged upon arrival.
On the platform www.refugeehelp.com you can find a lot of practical information for Ukrainian refugees staying in the Netherlands. The information on the platform is verified by the Council for Refugees and includes information on housing, legal issues, activities, education, work and more. The platform refers to various organizations that are committed to support refugees from Ukraine. In addition to the provision of information for Ukrainians, private individuals can also offer their assistance via the platform.
Since municipalities are under a lot of pressure, UNICEF the Netherlands has developed a checklist for child-friendly emergency reception. You are welcome to reach out to email@example.com for more information and advice.