Date and time: Wednesday, 19/05/2021; 1 hour duration, 9:00 am to 10:00 am Place: Online, Zoom (due to COVID restrictions)

Participants: 5 participants


The procedure of the NLBC project Focus Group (IO1)


The focus group carried out on Wednesday by Inercia Digital, counted 5 professionals from different fields (parental educators, social worker, lawyer and psychologist). We started the activity with a brief introduction of Inercia Digital and we talked about the project and its aims. Then, all of the participants introduced themselves and explained what they do or have done working with parents and migrant people.


Question answered during the focus group:


1. What does it mean to you to be a parental educator/to work with migrants?

For the participants, being a parental educator or working with migrants means support. This is a very important concept as they arrive in our country, they need any kind of help as they arrive in Spain without knowing our language and their rights and they feel insecure and lonely. Also, they mentioned that working with them means accompaniment as they act like a guide for them and the work done is individualized because every person has a different situation and their needs are different.


2.      What are  the  characteristics  of  your  relation  with  the  migrant  parents (immigrants, emigrants or transmigrants )?

Normally, when migrant parents arrive to our country without their children, organisations do not focus on them as families, they help them to settle but when they get the chance of knowing them, they realise that the main worry is their children so there are not programmes or activities that can help them with this situation and their mental health is affected notably. In this case, the participants agreed that the principal characteristic of their relationship with migrant parents is empathy as they need to know how they feel and what they are missing . It is essential to establish goals and to have in mind that our culture is different so this can be a barrier when you work with them because sometimes, professionals forget this aspect.


3.      What are the main topics that parents feel the need to talk about? What are the main topics of concern?

According to participants’ experiences the main topic is the return. Migrant parents find it difficult to know when they are going to be able to see their children face to face because it is extremely expensive for them to travel to their origin countries. They are constantly worried about their children’s health and sometimes, it is not easy to communicate with them due to the lack of media (phones, computers, etc). Moreover, mentally parents are really affected and it is essential for them to have a professional to talk to about how they feel because normally they feel guilty for leaving their children behind.


4.      What  is   the   role   of   the   parental   educator   in   supporting/facilitating   the relationship between migrant parents and the left behind children?

There are different roles when people work as parental educators. The main one is to be an accompanist as they accompany them during their time in our country and they continuously monitor them. The role of psychologists is important too as their wellbeing is affected by the fact that they do not have their children with them.


5.      Which are  the  most  significant  changes  that  occur  after  parents  work  with parental educators? Which are the challenges the parental educators face in their relation with migrant parents?

The most significant change after parents worked with parental educators is to feel listened to and feel part of our community. Even though their families are separated, it is important for them to start a new life in a new country and to make sure that they continue their roles as parents. The support that they receive from those professionals helps them to feel that they have not lost the control of their families and the bond is still there.

Professionals said that it is difficult to face some situations because one of the challenges is the language barrier. It is hard to understand them at the beginning because they do not know how to express themselves in another language. Also, women experience more difficulties than men and this is something that has to change to work better with them.


6.      Are there  follow-up  sessions  of  educators  with  parents,  to  check  what  new methods of relationship discovered in the program have kept in the long run?

Yes, there are. Parental educators monitor the parents continuously to make sure that all of their needs are met and attended. However, sometimes programmes or projects have got a short amount of time approved by the Spanish authorities, so it is kind of impossible to attend them properly and to keep that continuity. If the programme is carried out for a long time, this follow-up of families may be successful in the future. It is true that the financial aids are not enough so this can be another issue when those professionals are working with them.


7.      In your opinion, what type of activities should migrant parents and left behind children engage in during separation?

Every activity has to be related to their needs. Normally, when an organization starts helping them, they do a personal interview first to get to know them better. After knowing their needs, they plan different activities with them. For example, workshops with other parents who are in the same situation, activities to improve their language skills and activities to face problems with their children and to find solutions to these problems. Their main worry is communication, especially when their children are teenegares and they do not have their parents with them.


8.      How can  technology  be  used  at  the  benefit  of  the  relationship  between  the migrant parent and the left behind child? Do you have suggestions?

Technology has been something very important for those families who are separated. Participants mentioned that years ago, migrant people used to go to cybercafes to make a call which only lasted for 10 minutes or less and sometimes they could not even afford this. Now, they can get a phone and even send one to their families and establish that connection which was really necessary back in the days. They suggested more initiatives like this project as we said before, their principal worry is to be connected with their children and families..


9.      What kind of training do you think would help parental educators to perform better in their activities?

According to participants’ opinions, parental educators need to connect with reality. There are really helpful trainings in Spain but they are not connected to parents´s needs so, sometimes it is difficult to work with them because of this. Also, it is very important that those training provide them with resources which can be used when you are working with parents educators and it is necessary to know where educators can find them and how to used them.


10.  Which authorities are active in regulating and supporting the relationship between migrant parents and left behind children? Are they efficient? Can their engagement be enhanced/improved?

In Spain, authorities are not involved in regulating and supporting migrant parents and their left behind children. Institutions only focus on paperwork and there is not a close relationship between them. They just want to make sure that they get every paper that a migrant person needs when he/she arrives in Spain. Normally, non governmental organisations carry out this task and support them in every way possible. According to this information, it can be said that they are nor efficient at all and they could/should improve their engagement with


11.  Which NGOs/private entities are active in supporting the relationship between migrant parents and left behind children? Are their interventions efficient? Can their engagement be enhanced/improved?

There are a lot of organizations working in supporting the relationship between migrant parents and left behind children like Save the Children or Accem, the one that has participated in this focus group. We can consider their work very efficient but it could be better if they would have more resources and more support from authorities to help more parents suffering in this situation.