• What kind of studies are there available regarding migrant parents and left behind children?

Most studies, research projects, policies and support initiatives aimed at migrant parents implemented in Italy, often target those  parents  that  have  brought  their children along. In those cases, the focus shifts into practices conceived to foster integration and inclusion, access to services, education, legal and socio-economic support. There are also several resources and policies targeting unaccompanied foreign minors that are aimed at ensuring their protection and care. Nonetheless, the information contained in this research is meant to focus on migrant parents whose children still live in their place of origin. In the Italian context, these groups and issues,while addressed some in projects promoted by NGOs, or sometimes covered  in journalism pieces, are still insufficiently acknowledged by policies, interventions and public awareness.

A UNICEF Working Paper defines Left Behind Children as «children raised in their home countries or in their countries of habitual residence, who have been  left  behind by adult migrants responsible for them»; in addition UNICEF stresses the importance of using the phrase “children left behind” carefully, in order to «avoid stigmatising children whose caregivers have migrated, demonising the caregivers for “leaving” to provide for their children, or create the impression that these children necessarily experience negative emotional or psychological impacts. For most parents, leaving  in  order to provide for their families is a difficult, but rational choice».

In fact, according to UNICEF, «limited job opportunities in communities of origin and the promise of remittances encourage parents to move for work». Moreover, «a lack of safe and legal pathways prevents parents from migrating with their children». Left Behind Children are at higher risk of suffering negative consequences such as psychological trauma and psycho-social effects, including depression, isolation, aggressiveness or behavioural problems, substance abuse or exposure to violence; nonetheless, UNICEF states that, if properly supported, these children can also «achieve healthy psychological development when they have continuous contact with their parents and are supported by in-country guardians and community».

Among other studies concerning the impact of labour migration on both the parents and their left behind children, an Italian Research Project promoted by the Emilia-Romagna region and the University of Bologna, titled “Essere genitori migranti: risorse, capacità e difficoltà – Being migrant parents: resources, skills and difficulties” reported that «parents find it more difficult to fulfil their parental role and functions, especially when especially when the expectations of the migration project have been expectations of the migration project have been disappointed and therefore the dream of improving their family’s life and perhaps returning to their country has proved unattainable».

Moreover, on the topic of family reunification, the document states that «family reunification struggles to rebuild ties that have been broken for too long. The children find themselves living as outsiders in the family, especially when both parents have migrated and they have remained in the care of relatives for the first few years, until the conditions for reunification are created. In these cases, parental roles are uncertain, confused in assuming a guiding function that facilitates the child’s integration into the new family life context. And this is understandable given that the parents’ sense of belonging to the context is partial. The child finds him or herself having to face many separations and new attachments linked to their own migration, and directly experiences the processes of loss of linguistic and identity references. In the case of the family that simultaneously plans and implements the migration project (e.g. refugee families, refugees fleeing from war situations), the situation of vulnerability and impact with the host country is even more dramatic, since it is marked by extreme social fragility, due to the housing precariousness, economic uncertainty and language difficulties».



[Antonella Monti, “Essere genitori migranti: risorse, capacità e difficoltà, Storie ed esperienze vissute da genitori migranti in quattro Comuni della provincia di Parma”; Servizio Sociale del Comune di Torrile (PR), 2008]


  • Are there any studies available regarding migrant parents education?


The relevant contribution hereby described is both a “theoretical and methodological reflection on the specific phenomenon of new immigrant, interfaith families”. The aim of the publication is “to develop a pedagogical model of the phenomenon, through the description of an educational practice” implemented in Naples the context of the ‘parenting support desk’, a consulting and training service for parents, active at the University of Naples Parthenope, in collaboration with the research activities of the Laboratory “Women, Gender, Education” of the University of Naples Federico II.

The article describes the involvement of 10 foreign and interreligious families in a training course, for the duration of six months. The sessions aimed at the elicitation of initially pre-narrative, then narrative and finally reflective modalities on the parenting practices, narrated through different devices (interviews, cards, stories, photos, biographical scripts, etc.), with the objective of enabling participants to reconstruct their own history and thus activating a process of reflection on the critical and apex events that have affected their life choices and, in particular, educational ones. By recounting and analysing the training experience and outcomes, the article explores several themes such as: what happens within these families? Are the identity and origin of each parent important predictors of children’s educational models? Which of the two lineages prevails: motherhood or fatherhood? What paths of parenting? Are there differences of gender?

The guiding principle and approach is the dynamics of belonging and identity. In fact, the article highlights the need to think of educational intervention in the plural, basing it on a co-intentionality: trainer, parents and children are subjects of this transformative task. The objective is to achieve an authentic commitment, obtained only by making participants progressively aware of the complexity of their condition.

In addition, the cross-analysis of the life stories and the subsequent typification of the elements that characterized the educational program made it possible to extrapolate some dimensions that seem to have significantly affected the effectiveness of the program.

Among others: understanding the importance of communication and exchange of different culturally determined models, including religious ones; the ideation of the process of personal identity exploration as a “narrative structure” and therefore the pursuit of an itinerary of dismantling the rigid schemes of representation, both in the social and in the private dimension and, at the same time, determining a more respectful propensity of the mother’s own identity rights towards the male partner, who often continues to exercise a power relationship based on economic dependence. In this sense, the training intervention was also aimed at recognizing the symbolic and cultural modalities that affect the daily life of these couples, helping women to deconstruct gender stereotypes with consequent effects on a personal level. In this direction, the family is able to develop a comparison and mutual enrichment in the name of educational sharing: the result of an encounter that enhances the differences of traditional educational models and that also operates to overcome the rigid division of roles and domestic tasks, so as to rethink parental care.

[Maria Luisa Iavarone, Francesca Marone, Fausta Sabatano, Genitorialità migrante: un’esperienza di formazione interculturale con madri immigrate a Napoli (Rivista Italiana di Educazione Familiare, n. 1 – 2015, pp. 53-75), 2015]


  • Are there any policies in your country covering the topic of parental education for migrant parents?


Although there are lots of policies regulating migrations and aimed at providing migrants support, alongside policies aimed at ensuring protection and proper care of children, there are no specific reference frameworks for targeted policies on the topic of parental education for migrant parents, outside of research projects or support initiatives, sometimes promoted by local or regional authorities and often implemented in collaboration with civil society organisations.


  • Are there any organizations in your country working for/with migrant parents?

    • What is their mission?

    • What are the most recent activities they implemented?

    • What are their results?

L’Albero della Vita” (The Tree of Life) is a non-profit, non-partisan and apolitical organisation aiming to protect the lives of children in difficulty, transforming discomfort into a new opportunity and striving to ensure their well-being, protect and promote the rights and foster the development of children, their families and the communities they belong to.

L’Albero della Vita is the initiator and coordinator of the European Network Children Left Behind. ChildrenLeftBehind.eu is a European network of nongovernmental organizations, centres for social studies, universities and individuals who co-operate at national, regional and European level for the protection of the rights of children involved in migratory events and the support of transnational and migrant families. It has been created with the aim to protect and promote the rights of children involved in the migratory events and reduce the negative effect of migration on children.


In the context of Network’s initiatives, L’Albero della Vita has created the guide manual “Genitori senza Frontiere” (Parents Without Borders). The guide is meant to be a useful tool for mothers and fathers who leave Romania to work in Italy, to ensure that they are:

  • able to prepare their families for the many trials to which distance will subject them
  • aware of the upheavals that their children will experience and are ready to face them together
  • informed of the duties as well as the rights they must be guaranteed in terms of work, health and assistance in Italy
  • prepared to see themselves and their children change, confident that the bond between them will grow with Associazione Donne Romene in Italia – A.D.R.I.


Founded by Romenian migrant living in Italy Silvia Dumitrache, a former editor of a cultural magazine in Bucharest, and based in Milan, the Association of Romenian Women in Italy –

  • is a non-profit organisation aiming to carry out socially useful activities in favour of its members and third parties, as well as to enhance and support the condition of female Romanian immigrants in their familial and professional life and foster their positive contribution to the process of integration in the Italian society. Alongside offering Romanian migrants valuable socio-economic support for their integration, the Association also provides them with tools to keep their ties to their origins and families alive, thus also impacting the children left

There are several other organisations, of different types and levels of outreach, targeting migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. A comprehensive list of non profit  organisations working with migrants can be found here. Notable examples include:

  • Organizzazione Internazionale per le Migrazioni (OIM/IOM): Established in 1951, is the main intergovernmental organization in the field of Italy is one of the founding countries. Currently there are 173 Member States. The IOM Mission in Rome has a Coordinating role for the Mediterranean countries. Since September 2016, IOM has entered the UN system, becoming the United Nations Migration Agency. The relations between the Italian government and the Organization are governed by an agreement signed in Rome on 23 June 1967, approved and executed under law n. 441 of 22/2/1968. It defines the activities of the Organization in Italy and it guarantees the achievement of common objectives.
  • The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE): a pan-European alliance of 107 NGOs in 40 countries protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced Their mission is to promote the establishment of fair and humane European asylum policies and practices in accordance with international human rights law. Italian members of the alliance are: ASGI; Asilo in Europa; Italian Council for Refugees; MOSAICO – Action for Refugees; Oxfam Italia Intercultura
  • Has your organization conducted any parental education activity?

Not to date.


  • What are the most important parental education projects implemented in the past ten years in your country?

    • What was the specific area/topic they focused on?

    • Did they include the development/use of any technological/digital tools?

    • Are their results, outcomes available? Are they quantized?

The P.I.P.P.I. Programme is the result of a collaboration between the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the Laboratory of Research and Intervention in Family Education of the University of Padua, Social Services, specifically child protection and tutelage, private social cooperatives, some schools and health institutions that manage the health services of the local authorities involved.

The P.I.P.P.I. programme was initiated in the context of current European legislation (CRC1989 – art. 3, 9, 12, 18 and 20 specifically-, EU 2020 Strategy, REC.2006/19, REC. 2013/778), which recognizes parenting support as an essential strategy to “break the cycle of social disadvantage and ensure children have a good start in life”, and of Italian legislation that emphasizes the importance of raising children within families (L.149/2001). The spectrum of family vulnerability is thus recognized as an area of exceptional opportunity  to  implement interventions effectively oriented towards the prevention of poverty and social inequality.

The programme represents an attempt to create a link between different institutions (Ministry, University, Municipalities) that share the same mission of promoting the common good, as well as between professions and disciplines in the fields of social work, psychology and educational sciences, which alone can meet the challenge of reducing the number of children removed from their families. In fact, the initiative mainly focuses on preventing the removal of minors from a negligent family of origin through an innovative approach of taking charge of the family unit.

  • was activated in 2011 and has continued developing at national level for almost a In December 2020, the last periodic quality report was issued, stating that the period 2018-2020 registered the highest number of participants since the beginning of the programme and an 18% increase compared to the previous biennium: 726 children and 700 families have been involved in the programme; of the parents, slightly over 18% being migrants.

The approach considered several aspects and parameters, focusing on the three main actors of the programme: children, parents and social operators. P.I.P.P.I. led to the creation of several assessment tools, planning and development strategies, and 2 digital platforms: all data collected during the implementation are recorded by the operators in two digital platforms. On the one hand, the Moodle platform which, in addition to being the virtual space that allows the operators to access information about the Programme and training materials, is the place where Pre- and Post-assessment questionnaires are uploaded. On the other hand, the RPMonline platform which, following the ecosystem approach promoted by the Programme, is based on the the multidimensional triangular model, which refers to three fundamental dimensions: the child’s developmental needs, the parents’ responses in satisfying these needs, the family and environmental factors that may influence this response.

Sostegno alla genitorialità


Notizie – Sostegno alla genitorialità: la valutazione del Programma P.I.P.P.I.


Rapporto di valutazione 2018-2020


Another parental education project, carried out at regional level in the Emilia-Romagna region, has resulted in the publication of “Il sostegno alla genitorialità oggi – Parenting support today”, recounting the training course and exchange of experiences of educators carrying out interventions to support parenting, promote the well-being and protection of children and adolescents. The aim of this training-workshop was to look at the history of the Emilia-Romagna welfare system in support of parenthood – in all its forms – trying to answer some basic questions: Is our ‘consolidated knowledge’ still effective? What compass guides our actions in favour of an inclusive and solidarity-based community? When we integrate on common goals of change, what are today the ‘fundamentals’ that favour and/or hinder transitions? What are the characteristics of organisations and groups that intervene in the community to support parenting?

The aim has been to address these issues ‘in the round’, with a composite view that brings together the social, educational, and health approaches. The first privileged interlocutor in educational action is the family, parents and adult reference figure, focusing on them with a view to recognising, involving and investing in their parental functions, factors that also involve the community to which they belong.


  • Have any parental education projects been implemented in your country that were addressed to migrant adults?

    • Who led them?

    • What was their purpose?

    • Are their results, outcomes available? Are they quantized?

The 2019 article “Transnational families and support to distance parenting between Italy and post-social Countries” presents three different Italian projects aiming to support long distance parenting for post-socialist families, suggesting some guidelines to promote the support for transnational families in terms of parental education for adult migrants, and in particular ‘long distance mothers’ employed in households as caregivers. In addition, most of these initiatives are implemented through some type of collaboration with organisations or support groups directly targeting the left behind children and operating at local level. The approaches hereby described are quite representative of the most common initiatives carried out at local level throughout Italy.

  • “Punto di Incontro Madreperla: Carezze al telefono – Madri da lontano” – Municipality of Reggio Emilia

The Meeting Point Madreperla has been active since 2004 as a space to foster social relationships, cultural and artistic activities, entertainment and support initiatives for caregivers from Eastern Europe. The chosen methodology for this particular initiative titled “Cuddles over the phone” is narrative: an exchange of stories and lived experiences in a group setting, addressing: the theme of migration and travel; the conditions of departure and the decision to emigrate; the arrival in Italy, expectations and reality, initial difficulties, the foreign language, loneliness, humiliation, distance from home, maintaining the roles of daughters, mothers and wives from afar; the theme of the return home, of family visits, of the sense of estrangement experienced by the women with regard to their family, their community, their affections, the perception of being neither here nor there. These sessions aimed to create a sense of community in order to overcome the silence loneliness that characterises the experience of migrant mothers, to give coherence and continuity to their life paths, often perceived as fragmented.

  • “MilanoL’viv – LontaneVicine: progetto per il supporto alla genitorialità transnazionale fra Italia e Ucraina”

The project, implemented in a partnership of Italian and Ukrainian NGOs, namely Soleterre – IT and Foundation Zaporuka – UA, provided different services to both migrant mothers employed as caregivers in Italy and to their left behind children; in particular, legal advice, psychological support, employment orientation, spaces to meet and participate in recreational activities for the parents, emotional, educational and technological support to the children. The legal advice concerned mostly family reunification practices.

On the parental education front, the project stressed the importance of a common and shared project between mother and child and the elaboration of mutual expectations are fundamental aspects. In fact, many problems that can occur, starting from the mother’s difficulty in exercising her parental role or, viceversa, the lack of recognition of her parental role by her child, and overall a relationship strained by coldness due to prolonged distance. The main object on which the psychological support worked was the so-called emotional freezing, which accompanied the affective sphere often dominating the relational life maintained at a distance between the migrant women and the loved ones left behind. To work on this aspect, the team used several modalities and tools, in particular focusing on communication. Although access to digital communication was widespread, the intervention of the team was important because it worked on an effective and conscious use of long-distance communication in addition to its content. The tendency observed, in fact, was that the family dialogue at a distance was made of stories not very adherent to reality where, especially the mothers, but specularly also the children, do not share each other’s daily difficulties, outlining pleasant and linear daily scenarios, with the risk of repressing feelings and claims that generate ineffective emotional relationships.

  • “Te iubeşte mama: un progetto di sostegno alla genitorialità transnazionale fra Italia e Romania”

The project aimed to provide spaces, tools and support to facilitate audiovisual communication at a distance among migrant mothers and left behind children. “Te iubeşte mama” is a tool to support transnational parenting: it is aimed at mothers and fathers who have their children and family in another country, accompanying them in the difficult task of reconciling working life in Italy with the needs of the distant family, with the aim of reducing school drop-outs, improving the psychological and emotional life of children and mothers/parents, and offering the possibility of maintaining links with the motherland. The aim is to provide support for the so-called ‘white orphans’, children living in Romania without one or both parents, who have migrated to ensure a better future for their children. The phenomenon of the ‘white orphans’ concerns Romania in a special way, because the migratory flow from this country has intensified significantly in recent years: in Italy, Romanians represent the main community of immigrants (about 1,200,000) out of a total population of the country of origin of about 20 million inhabitants. According to a Unicef study, in 2008 there were 350,000 Romanian children who had at least one parent abroad, i.e. 7% of the population aged between 0 and 18. Of these, one third (126,000) have both parents abroad and are under 10 years old. Another 400,000 children have experienced the absence of one of their parents for longer or shorter periods of time.

[M. Bertagnolli, Famiglie transnazionali e sostegno alla genitorialità a distanza tra Italia e Paesi postsocialisti, Rivista Italiana di Educazione Familiare, n. 1 – 2019, pp. 123-152]

About | “Te iubeste mama!”/”Mamma ti vuole bene!”


Another instance of parental education support initiative addressed to migrant adults and implemented at the local level is “Spazio Genitorialità – Parenting Space”, carried out by the social cooperative “E-sfaira”, based in Padua. It is a counselling and training service, both individual and in small groups, for foreign women-mothers on parenting issues, education and relations with their children’s school, run on behalf of the Municipality of Padua, Reception and Immigration Project Unit, within the Social and School Integration Programme. The service is offered within the Women from the World Centre – especially for individual cases that require a listening ear and guidance linked to specific problems – and in the E-Sfaira offices, where both individual interviews and thematic meetings for small groups of foreign women are held, focusing on issues of motherhood, child growth and education, and relations with schools. If necessary, alongside the meetings with mothers, a free reception and entertainment service for pre-school children is activated.


  • What kind of policies and activities are in place in your country aimed to support the educational process and the behavioural development of left behind children?


Similarly to the situation stated above in regards to migrants parental education, there are lots of policies regulating migrations, in particular the arrival of migrant children  and unaccompanied foreign minors and their access to services, education and proper care; nonetheless, there are no specific policies or reference frameworks focusing on the topic of educational support and behavioural development of left behind children. There is virtually no research, activities or awareness of Italian left behind children, i.e. children of Italian migrants living abroad. In fact, the general public discourse on “left behind children” – also referred to as “orfani bianchi” i.e. “white orphans” – and the related support activities are conceived as part of parental education  programmes of foreign migrant parents living in Italy, whose children have remained in the Country of origin, most notably Eastearn European Countries. These activities are often implemented in tandem with organisations or support networks working locally in the Country of origin, as described further below.


  • What are the main organizations (national, international) in your country working for left behind children?







  • Have there been implemented in your country any projects addressed to left behind children in the past ten years?

    • Who initiated them?

    • What did they focus on?

    • What are their results?


As mentioned, projects addressing parental education and those targeting left behind children often interects. Projects aimed at left behind children do not target local Italian children, rather they face the issue of transnational families by a direct interaction with the migrant parents present in the Italian territory, and a joint effort involving the left behind children locally in the origin Countries. Clear examples are mentioned above, and can be considered both from the perspective of parental education and of support to left behind children:


  • “Te iubeşte mama”, promoted by D.R.I.

In an interview, Silvia Dumitrache, the founder of A.D.R.I. and of the project, explains the focus on audiovisual communication, and the related issues, from the viewpoint of the child: “The telephone is not enough to keep in touch with the mothers, we need audiovisual contact, to see how their children are growing up, especially when the women are unable to come home at least once a year. But often in Romania, even if a school has a computer connected to the Internet, the children cannot use it because there are no supervisors. In rural areas, a computer is not a cheap toy. My dream is to give each of these children a laptop so that they can talk to their mothers. Of course, it’s not like being at home with your child and kissing them goodnight. But you can confide in each other, do your homework together, look each other in the eye. And you don’t forget, you go to sleep with that image. This is good for the children, but also for the mothers. Because if the mothers are well, the children are well too.” Silvia explains: “For the children who stay behind, the painful part is not so much the separation as the waiting that never ends. And then there is the lack of communication, not being able to imagine what mum is doing in the other country. You feel abandoned. This is why children take their own lives. Few people notice their discomfort, because in Romania, especially in rural areas, there is no social worker. Both the state of departure and the state of arrival are guilty of this situation. This phenomenon is underestimated at European level.”

Gli orfani bianchi, o il costo drammatico delle badanti. – Revue Quart Monde



  • MilanoL’viv – LontaneVicine: another instance of close international collaboration, as described

In addition, the above mentioned organisation L’albero della Vita, as leader of Childrenleftbehind.eu has implemented several national and international projects aimed at supporting left behind children, for instance:

  • Families on the move: protecting transnational rights in Europe: the goal of this protection project is to  build a response network to help affected minors and their parents to  face  separation  during the migration process, by promoting social inclusion of the most vulnerable groups in Europe. The programme involves the following main measures: psychological assistance and legal counselling for parents and youths; capacity-building interventions for public and private stakeholders; advocacy activities for local and national institutions; family support; media promotion; production of teaching and information


  • Advanced Training Programme on Transnational Families Support – ATP: developed with the purpose of providing stakeholders with adequate tools and improved competences for addressing the needs of transnational families. The ATP framework allows trainees to choose among a variety of learning tools such as case-study analyses, brain-storming, team work, videos, role games, experience sharing, open discussion. For the sending countries, topics covered include: 1.A-Psycho-social assistance to children left behind in the country of origin; 2.A-Parenting for families separated by labour migration (preparation, distance parenting and return); 3.A-Economic and emotional impact of young migration on For the receiving countries: 1.B -Integrated-support service in the reunification process; 2.B – Legalisation through marriage; 3.B – Migration, maternity and trafficking: improvement of the assistance programmes held for parents, victims of trafficking, in receiving countries; 4.B – The role of remittances in the dynamics of transnational families.


  • Can you identify the specific needs of migrant parents and of left behind children based on the researched information?



The 2020 Impact of labour migration on left-behind children Report of the Council of Europe’s Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development includes a Case-study on Romanian migrant workers in Italy, the largest foreign labour force in Italy,  and  their left-behind children. The study identifies specific problematic needs that should be addressed, hereby synthesized.

Although Italian public authorities have established a broad range of measures aimed at addressing the situation of labour migrants, for instance to fight illegal employment, to engage civil society organisations on specific policy issues, to ensure access to education and services and to enhance the overall degree of migrants’ participation in socio-economic and cultural life, the threat of labour exploitation and abuse is still pressing, and both the issue of reunification of families and the problems parents and their left behind children face are still insufficiently addressed.

Due to the type of employment available to Romanians and Eastern Europeans, in particular female migrants, often employed as caregivers, leaving to visit their families and children can lead to loss of employment; moreover, in most cases they live in the same household that employs them, thus implying no time off and no chance for bringing in children to visit.

Many Romanians have reported experiencing anxiety and depression. Migrant parents are often not in a position to provide the necessary care and support for their children, and sometimes their elderly parents, left as primary caregivers to the grandchildren. Many migrants find themselves in situations of hardship and distress. The term “The Italian Syndrome” is sometimes used to describe symptoms common to many Moldovans, Romanians, Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans working in Western Europe, such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, hallucinations and obsessive behaviour. In extreme cases, migrant parents may also end up as victims of human trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation. Some of them never get in touch with their children and never come back.

Associations representing migrant workers in Italy report that in many cases the children left behind put on a brave face, work extremely hard at school and do not talk about their problems. They try to be strong for their parents, but they often struggle to cope, and the consequences on their mental and physical wellbeing can be harsh. The parents’ departure is a dramatic change in the children’s lives and has a deep psychological impact on their well-being. It is a very difficult decision, which is very hard for the parents to explain and even more difficult for the children to understand and accept. Often, parents tell their children that they are going to another country for the good of the child, which inadvertently makes children blame themselves for the situation. Shockingly, child suicide is largely under-reported. In addition, left-behind children are particularly vulnerable to labour exploitation, as well as sexual exploitation and abuse, or end up in the justice system, either as victims or perpetrators of criminal offences.

In many cases, parents do not discuss the situation with children prior to the departure and do not prepare them for the changes that will follow. Maintaining contact at a distance is essential for the well-being of children, but it can be difficult for many reasons, including lack of access to the internet, difficulties for parents and children in expressing their emotions, providing support and advice while being separated, and feelings of guilt or resentment. In many cases, lack of contact results in growing distance, and it is not uncommon for parents to have difficulties in reconnecting with their children upon their return.

In order to improve the conditions of children left in the countries of origin of labour migration it is crucial to ensure access to quality, accessible and affordable services for left-behind children and their families, to be granted across the continuum of care. Possible interventions include lobbying, campaigning and structural changes. Interventions aimed at empowerment have to address children and families together. Increased capacity-building opportunities are needed for public institutions and for NGOs. With respect to prevention, social media should be used. Children and families should be supported outside of schools. Parents should be reassured that informing the authorities about their departure will be welcome and will not have negative consequences on their situation but will provide an additional layer of protection for their children. In fact, in most cases parents do not inform the authorities about their departure, either because of lack of relevant information or for fear of excessively bureaucratic procedures and the risk of institutionalisation of the children. Because of this, the children’s access to health services, education, legal protection and social benefits can be limited. In many cases, their carers do not have the legal authority to represent them and thus to not undertake the necessary steps to gain access to available benefits and services. Schools are often not informed about the parents’ departure and find out because children who used to be fine suddenly show lack of concentration and start to misbehave. Consequently, these children often experience difficulties at school, including absenteeism, and often drop out.

While it might be too early today to evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the situation of left-behind children, it is already  clear that they have been particularly badly affected by this crisis.






[Antonella Monti, “Essere genitori migranti: risorse, capacità e difficoltà, Storie ed esperienze vissute da genitori migranti in quattro Comuni della provincia di Parma”; Servizio Sociale del Comune di Torrile (PR), 2008]

[Maria Luisa Iavarone, Francesca Marone, Fausta Sabatano, Genitorialità migrante: un’esperienza di formazione interculturale con madri immigrate a Napoli (Rivista Italiana di Educazione Familiare, n. 1 – 2015, pp. 53-75), 2015]

L’Albero della Vita


Children Left Behind


Genitori senza Frontiere


Associazione Donne Romene in Italia – A.D.R.I.


List of Italian no-profit


Organizzazione Internazionale per le Migrazioni


ECRE: NGOs; ASGI; Asilo in Europa; Italian Council for Refugees; MOSAICO – Action for Refugees; Oxfam Italia Intercultura


Sostegno alla genitorialità


Notizie – Sostegno alla genitorialità: la valutazione del Programma P.I.P.P.I.


Rapporto di valutazione 2018-2020


Il sostegno alla genitorialità oggi


Transnational families and support to distance parenting between Italy and post-social Countries

About | “Te iubeste mama!”/”Mamma ti vuole bene!”


Spazio Genitorialità Save the Children Italia




Families on the move: protecting transnational rights in Europe Advanced Training Programme on Transnational Families Support

Impact of labour migration on left-behind children


The Italian Syndrome