The Child-and-Youth Friendly Spaces (CFS) is an internationally recognized program, which is developed and implemented in different settings around the world whenever children find themselves in collective shelters, for example due to war or natural disaster. In Switzerland, Save the Children has, since 2015, supported displaced children and youth in asylum shelters. The pilot CFS Program at the Federal Reception Center in Bern was launched in 2017 by Save the Children Switzerland in collaboration with the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the ORS Service AG. The project has been implemented from September 2017 to August 2018 (12 months period) to respond to the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to the Swiss government to apply minimum standards for reception conditions, integration, psychosocial support, and welfare for asylum-seeking and refugee children.
The program aims, amongst others, to:
- Offer psychosocial support through arts for accompanied and unaccompanied minors to help them start a resilience process, strengthen their coping mechanisms, and promote their social, emotional and cognitive development, which can facilitate their potential integration to Swiss society and public schools;
- Enable creative expression of children and youth and allow them to have fun and “be children”;
- Design a protection and care model addressing the specific needs of refugee and asylum seeking children, which is transferred to shelter operators in order to make it sustainable;
- Build the capacity of shelter operators to autonomously implement the program and enhance psychosocial support through the arts, so as to maximize its impact and scale it up at national level.
- Approximately 143 asylum-seeking children and youth, both accompanied and unaccompanied, aged 1 to 18, the majority under the age of 6;
- 69 parents, who participated in the artistic activities.
Between June 1st and August 31, 2018, the CSF Program, supported by Alta Mane, foresaw different artistic and creative activities, adapted to the needs and ages of 143 children and youth, aged one to 18. The activities, run 5 days per week (Monday-Friday) in two shifts (5 hours totally) from 9-11:30 hrs and from 14-16:30 hrs, focused on the social, cognitive and emotional development of children and adolescents and allowed for the participation and inclusion of children and youth with special needs. All activities managed by shelter operator staff who are supported by three qualified child caregivers trained by Save the Children are participatory and inclusive and include: painting, drawing, crafting, murals, crafting music instruments, music, singing and dancing, the promotion of basic language and numeracy skills through the arts, sports and games, health-promotion and hygiene activities. The CFS Program, since September 1st 2018 fully managed by ORS, has proven key in improving the quality standards in terms of care, support and protection of minors on the move, as well as in providing a successful model for psychosocial support of refugee and asylum-seeking children located in the Asylum Centers in Switzerland.
Partnership Save the Children Schweiz and Fondazione Alta Mane