The theme of children left behind covers children who do not move themselves, but are left behind by one or both parents who have migrated. They may live with one parent or stay with other relatives, such as grandparents, aunts or uncles if both parents migrated. Topics covered under this theme include ideas around transnational parenthood, the impact of remittances on the child and child’s well being and issues concerning child health and psycho social effects.

In the context of free mobility the pattern of migration changed considerably, it turned to be more temporary and circular migration, for example 73% of all Bulgarians who emigrated in the period 2001-14 resided abroad less than five years. The main destination of migration changed with EU accession and became southern Europe countries such as Spain – where in 2013 there were 13,500 Bulgarian citizens living – Greece and Italy.

The migration has a specific pattern: the percentage of women migrating is 55.5% (IOM, 2013). The phenomenon has been improving life conditions of Bulgarian people; in 2010 remittances constitute the 4% of GPD nevertheless the impact on children of migrant parent’s constitute a dramatic issue.

When migrants leave to find work abroad, they often seek to improve the well-being of their family and provide better opportunities for their children over the long run. While migration may assist in achieving financial stability, research shows that the absence of a parent can be detrimental to a child’s social and psychological development. Children left behind are a vulnerable category unlike any other and deserve policy-specific attention. No part of the world remains untouched by the phenomenon of labor migration and its effects, and countries of the former Soviet Union (USSR) are no exception.

The programme “Family on the move: transnational family” focuses on behalf of the entity on the issue of migration in Europe, with particular attention to the phenomenon of children left behind and returning migrants. The programme aims at supporting minors and families in the migration process by favouring vulnerable groups’ social inclusion and reducing imbalances created by migration ows.

The programme is carried out in Europe’s poorest areas: Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Republic of Moldova. The goal of this multi-country intervention is to address the protection of children’s rights and of families in a migration process as a cross-cutting issue:

-by implementing advocacy activities at a national and local level,

-raising local people and diaspora members’ awareness of migration consequences,

-strengthening social workers’ skills and offering psycho-social support to migrant parents, caregivers, as well a legal aid service.

The Impact of Labor Migration on Children Left Behind

Studies of the effects of migration on the well-being of Moldovan and Ukrainian children left behind generally find that children are negatively impacted emotionally. It is extremely difficult, however, to accurately assess the emotional state of left-behind children because most studies do not include their emotional state prior to the departure of a parent, nor is it possible to measure what the emotional state might have been in the absence of migration. Each child reacts differently; it is not enough to simply compare a child with migrant parents to one without. More factors must be taken into account before clear parallels may be drawn.

Beneficiaries: 210 minors, 345 parents and caregivers, 970 public and private stakeholders, 700 diaspora members.