Return operations

Good Practices in Returning Children with Families

It is Frontex responsibility to consider the special needs of persons in a particularly vulnerable situation, in every activity we implement together with the Member States. 

Protecting vulnerable migrants is also a fundamental part of the Agency`s mandate on returns. We want to make sure that people who need special protection are treated properly. 

Every child has special rights, including to be treated with dignity, to be heard, to receive information, to participate in decision-making and to receive healthcare if needed. Because of children’s particular needs and vulnerabilities, special care to ensure that these rights are respected during the entire return procedure is essential. Children have the right to know what return will mean for them and, depending on their age, this also requires that those who work with them know how to efficiently communicate with them.

For this reason, we have developed a set of tools for children in return and for those working with children, and we plan to do the same also for other vulnerable groups in the future.

In close cooperation with child psychologists and child education experts, as well as in consultation with the Agency`s Fundamental Rights Office and the Consultative Forum, Frontex has developed a “Toolbox for Children in Return” which includes the following: 

  • Good Practices on Returning Children with Families, already publicly available. It includes some best practices of Member States in returning families with children 
  • Age-appropriate Guidebooks for children, simple text and illustrations describing what the young readers can expect during the return process, and how they can ask for help if they need it. The Guidebooks explain who makes a return decision, and the different steps of their return, such as the acquisition of travel documents, airport, and flights` security procedures. The Guidebooks also offers spaces for children to express, in words and pictures, what they are feeling at various stages of the process:
    • Activity Book to help children aged 4-11 cope with their emotions during return (11 languages)
    • Guidebooks for three age groups (6-11, 12-17 and Unaccompanied Children) which provide information about the return procedure in an age-appropriate manner (available in 11 languages – four EU and seven non-EU)
  • A Guidebook for Parents or Guardians with practical information on how to help children during a return, including providing emotional support (11 languages)
  • A Manual for Migration Officers on how to use the tools (available in all EU languages)
  • A specific training, Families and Children in Return (FACIR), for experts who deal with children in migration
  • A practical workshop for experts, both police officers and civil servants, who deal with children in migration