Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Sweden: Challenges in Residential Care and the Role of Professional Social Work

Author(s): Franziska Anna SEIDEL, Sigrid JAMES



In 2015, 35,369 unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs) applied for asylum in Sweden, making it the number one destination country for URMs in Europe. URMs often face multiple social problems and mental health issues that can be the result of stressful pre-migration experiences, the migration experience itself, and integration challenges in Europe. Drawing on grey as well as peer-reviewed literature, this paper aims to provide insight into how Sweden deals with the reception of URMs in general, and which challenges social service systems faced during the height of the “European Migration Crisis in 2015.“ Particular focus is placed on the role of residential care settings in providing accommodation and care for URMs. A synthesis of the literature suggests that although Sweden can be seen as a country with long-standing experience in receiving migrants, the influx of migrants has challenged the welfare state in keeping its high standard of social support for URMs and maintaining the quality of professional social work interventions. Nonetheless, considerable efforts have been made to adapt existing services and create new psychosocial interventions.


KEYWORDS: Unaccompanied refugee minorsmigrationresidential caresocial work in Sweden

Tags: Sweden, Unaccompanied minors, Children, Adolescents, Youth, Refugees, Asylum seekers, Asylum process, Living conditions, Access to mental health care, Social support

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