Guardianship systems for children deprived of parental care in the European Union
Guardians are one of the most important features of a protection system for children who are deprived of their family environment and cannot have their interests represented by their parents. They are key to safeguard the child’s best interests and general well-being, and to complement the limited legal capacity of the child, when necessary, in the same way that parents do. Despite existing legal provisions, guardianship systems in EU Member States often fail to provide adequate support and protection to unaccompanied children. Some unaccompanied children are not assigned with a guardian; very... often assigned guardians have no personal contact with children and do not meet them in person. The most common gaps and challenges in national guardianship systems are related to lengthy appointment procedures, limited availability of independent and qualified guardians, lack of systematic training of guardians, lack of necessary support for the children and the guardians including in accessing legal advice. Effective guardianship systems will enhance the protection of unaccompanied children in the EU and safeguard their best interests. This FRA summary provides a brief outline of guardianship systems in the European Union, highlighting the fundamental principles of these as well as a guardian’s mandate and their core tasks. It also provides an overview of relevant EU instruments and publications in the field.