MPF project Children Left Behind by Labour Migration (CASTLE) wraps up activities

  • What are the impacts of labour migration on those who stay and those who leave? This question was the red thread for the rationale behind the EU-funded MPF project Children Left Behind by Labour Migration (given the moniker, CASTLE) which has recently wrapped up activities.

What are the impacts of labour migration on those who stay and those who leave? This question was the red thread for the rationale behind the EU-funded MPF project Children Left Behind by Labour Migration (given the moniker, CASTLE), which has recently wrapped up activities.

The project was implemented by Babeș-Bolyai University of Romania, Terre des hommes – Aide à l’enfance dans les monde, Terre des hommes Moldova, Terre des hommes Ukraine, the Ukrainian Institute for Social Research Oleksandr Yaremenko, and the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova between June 2021 and December 2023.

For over two decades, Eastern European citizens have been migrating to the European Union for work, with children often remaining in the country or origin with only one parent or in the care of family members or other trusted caretakers. This leads to the creation of transnational families, which have been the core subject of research for this project during two years of activities in Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. Stemming from initial research interest, the project has gone beyond expectations and made an impact on the ground for all groups involved.

Impactful research and feeding the policy-research nexus

A prime example of an Action Research partnership, CASTLE has sought to make meaningful impact for all groups of actors involved, including academics, policymakers, social protection and relevant service providers with a responsibility over children’s wellbeing, as well as migrants and their families.

The project has contributed to widening the knowledge base on children left behind by conducting empirical research that has provided insights into the experiences of children and parents as well as other stakeholders involved in migration in the three countries of origin.

The Action research highlighted the challenges faced by children left behind caused by the insufficient planning of care responsibilities, itself a consequence of the precarious nature of migrant work and short-term employment. The key findings were condensed into a report to inform the public about the perspectives of migrants’ children, experiences of working parents abroad, as well as local authorities' and other stakeholders’ viewpoints on the matter. Under the umbrella of the project, 16 academic papers and two policy briefs were published. The condensed version will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Ethnic and Migrations Studies and research on the topic will continue through the Centre of Research for the study of Transnational Families at the Babeș-Bolyai University of Romania.

Empowering Children Left Behind

The YouCreate Methodology was employed to train Moldovan and Ukrainian adolescents and teachers, fostering skills development for local initiatives, empowering them to interact with local representatives and heightened their sensitivity to the experiences of their peers whose parents work abroad.

Participants' testimonials affirmed the project's profound influence on personal development for the children who participated, particularly in fostering leadership, communication skills, and consensus-building. The impact on familial relationships is noteworthy, as children have learned to empathise with the challenges faced by their migrant parents, leading to an enhanced familial bond.

Furthermore, the research team engaged young co-researchers in Action Research activities, representing an innovative and empowering approach. This participation allowed the young participants to develop practical skills for their future while fostering a sense of agency. In turn, this initiative enriched the research with diverse perspectives.

Development of a training Guide/Handbook

During the research phase, the need for the development of a training guide/handbook targeting professionals, parents, and caregivers was identified. This guide enhances their knowledge of areas like pre-departure preparation, childcare transfer, transnational communication tools, psychosocial support, and legal protection of children left behind.

Psychosocial support and guidance for transnational families

In Moldova, participants highlighted the usefulness of the applied methods and the psychologist's advice. The guidance on which institutions to turn to when planning to go abroad, along with practical advice on preparing for departure and facing the associated challenges, was highly appreciated. The project's focus on equipping families with the ability to confront and adapt to these challenges reflects its commitment to comprehensive support.

New Legal Provisions for children’s custody in Moldova

In Moldova, a significant achievement was the improvement of the legislative framework regarding custody through the adoption of Government Decision No. 81 on February 22, 2023. This Decision derived from the consultation sessions held during the project lifecycle that identified positive and negative effects of migration on transnational families and proposed several recommendations and solutions. The framework regulation delineates the organisational structure and operational procedures of a guardianship service. The legislative change aims to address the complexities faced by these children, ensuring their welfare is at the forefront of custody arrangements and the best interest of the child is met.

Migration training for service providers

Efforts were also directed towards enhancing the capacities of child protection specialists in Moldova and Ukraine whom despite regularly working with transnational families, had not received specialised training on labour migration issues before. 181 local service provider staff were trained on data collection, legal advice and service provision, of which 76 in Ukraine and 105 in Moldova. These capacity building activities were strategically planned and executed to equip service providers with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively understand and support transnational families.

Communications campaign and specialised training for media

Subsequent training workshops targeted communication specialists and students in journalism and communication sciences in Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania, offering practical information and recommendations to enhance media coverage of migration phenomena. An awareness campaign, which successfully reached an extensive audience, contributed to a more informed public narrative around labour migration.

Overall, these insights from both countries underscore the project's effectiveness in addressing the multifaceted needs of families affected by labour migration. By taking a holistic view and acting on several levels, from the targeted advice to families to the political sphere, CASTLE has become a point of reference on the subject of transnational families and the Research Centre will carry forward the legacy.

Related Links

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[external site] Centre of Research for the study of Transnational Families