Save the Children’s Durable Solutions for Children Toolkit

​April 2019

Steve Morgan, Director, Migration and Displacement Initiative, Save the Children International │,

68 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2017, double that of 2005 and representing a larger population than the UK or France. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has reported increasing numbers of displaced persons each year for a significant number of years, and this rise looks highly likely to continue for the foreseeable future. 

More than half of those currently displaced are children, many of whom are likely to be amongst the poorest and most vulnerable children on the planet. Displaced children are more vulnerable to a host of profound, life-changing challenges. A displaced child is far more likely to suffer from malnutrition or to be denied access to education, to suffer exposure to physical or sexual abuse, child marriage, or recruitment into armed forces and militias. 

As trends of displacement move ever upwards - to the particular detriment of displaced children who often end up spending long periods of their formative years in limbo - Save the Children believes that it is increasingly essential to identify durable solutions that ensure the wellbeing and futures of displaced children.  

This much-needed focus on solutions is mirrored in the Global Compacts on Refugees and on Migrants -as one of the key pillars of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, and as a key work stream in the Global Protection Cluster’s Plan of Action on the 20th Anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (the GP20). 

A “durable solution” per se is found when a child’s rights are fully reinstated during, and/or after migration or displacement. There are three internationally accepted long-term durable solutions: 1) Return, 2) Local Integration and 3) Re-settlement. Typically, the three solutions apply to displaced populations only, however, within Save the Children, we extend this definition to migrant children as well.

There are already a number of excellent tools that allow different actors to measure and analyse these return and reintegration contexts, as well as progress towards durable solutions. Nevertheless, despite the fact that over 50% of displaced people are children, existing tools do not easily facilitate a child-focused analysis. This lack of child focus in durable solutions frameworks means that millions of migrant and displaced minors risk ‘falling between the cracks’ of host and origin state responsibilities. Therefore, in response, the Save the Children’s Migration and Displacement Initiative (MDI)* developed the Durable Solutions for Children Toolkit, which aims to ensure that children are at the heart of migration-focused responses and solutions to displacement. 

In contexts of protracted displacement, Save the Children promotes local integration and decent living standards for children. In contexts of return, where the long-term effort is concentrated on reintegration, Save the Children aims to ensure that returning children are protected in an appropriate environment. With this in mind, as Save the Children’s field offices are increasingly involved in durable solutions focused programming, advocacy and policy work, the toolkit provides guidance for engaging with displaced and irregular migrant children. It allows practitioners to build evidence-based and child-focused long-term solutions and advocacy interventions. 

The toolkit has been developed in four chapters, namely: Introducing Solutions, Assessing Solutions, Advocating for Solutions and Programming for Solutions. The first chapter frames the topic of ‘solutions’, giving an overview of key definitions and global discussions to familiarise the audience with the solutions agenda. The second chapter offers three tools to assess i) the general ‘solutions environment’ and what enables and challenges solutions in a given context; ii) the current status of solutions in a given country/region and iii) key procedural issues to ensure a strong solutions process. Chapter three provides key advocacy messages for different solutions scenarios (return, local integration and resettlement); whilst the final chapter presents a generalised Theory of Change, defining key objectives of a solutions operation (local integration or return) for children, and highlighting key programming components and assumptions. 

Within these, the toolkit provides substantial direction on issues of return and reintegration. It also outlines options, actions and legal guidance related to local integration and resettlement. The toolkit can help measure child-specific gaps in displacement and irregular migration settings, shape policy and programming decisions, monitor improvements and increase the accountability of service providers. MDI hopes that it will support in the design and delivery of strong, scalable solutions that reach more children, whilst prioritising the most vulnerable.
The toolkit is envisaged as an internal, ‘working document’, which aims at making a vital contribution to literature and learning on durable solutions, facilitating a better understanding of, and response to, the specific challenges faced nowadays by displaced children. 
MDI would like to share the toolkit with partner organisations, to increase the global focus on child-sensitive durable solutions, and to gather inputs and insights from the wider community working within the Solutions Agenda.

*Save the Children established its Migration and Displacement Initiative (MDI) in late 2016. The MDI’s founding principle is that all children in migration and displacement situations are considered children first: independent of their migration status. Consequently, they are all entitled to access their fundamental rights. As a compact, multidisciplinary team, the MDI exists as a catalyst ‘unit’ specifically designed to drive forward knowledge, programming and policy work on child focused M&D in a targeted number of priority areas.