Can an orphan be a refugee

Young refugees

Children and young people who flee to Germany alone have had to leave their homeland for a variety of reasons. Most of them come from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea or Somalia, where war or civil war has been raging for years. Many have seen the death or abuse of parents, siblings, or friends. Some have fled forced recruitment, child trafficking, forced marriage or genital mutilation. Alone in exile they have to find their way in an unknown environment, cope with their experiences of violence and the separation from their family and live with uncertain prospects of staying.


For some of the young refugees, a foster family can therefore be particularly suitable to find support and support. In a foster family, they can build up new, reliable relationships and receive intensive support in developing a new perspective on life.


PFIFF is looking for foster families for young refugee children and adolescents, most of whom are between 14 and 17 years old. The proportion of girls and young women is around ten percent.

Do you want to open your home to a refugee child or young person? Then you should be open and sensitive to the escape and socio-cultural experiences of the young people. It is helpful if you have experience in dealing with children and young people and an understanding of psychological stress.

Perhaps you also have your own migration history and understand what it means to leave your home country.


If you would like to apply as a foster family for a refugee child or young person, there are some basic requirements that foster care centers in Hamburg must meet. For this you go through the corresponding preparation as in full-time care.


PFIFF prepares you comprehensively
At an information evening on the subject of full-time care for young refugees, you will find out in detail what tasks you will have to do and how PFIFF will support you.
After an initial interview and your application, you will receive full-time training on admitting a child or young person as well as further personal counseling interviews. The training covers the most important aspects to consider when accepting a young refugee in your family. You will receive comprehensive information on the basic questions in long-term care as well as on topics such as flight and trauma, intercultural communication, asylum and residence rights, dealing with racism and discrimination.

Being the foster family of a young refugee is a special task. Because you support a child or a young person from another culture directly in their everyday life and thereby help them to gain a foothold in society. As a family, you can have new, enriching experiences. A counselor from PFIFF is always at your side and supports you with questions that arise in everyday life with a young refugee.

In detail, living together with a young refugee can mean:

  • You support the acquisition of the German language, but also the preservation of the language of origin,
  • They support the young person with the school integration and career choice,
  • They accompany the grief of a young person due to the separation from family members,
  • You are an emotional support in the asylum procedure,
  • They accompany regular medical or psychotherapeutic treatments.

Foster families receive a monthly care allowance as well as a contribution towards the costs of upbringing. They are continuously advised and supported in their task by specialists.

PFIFF also offers you regular training evenings on specific escape and exile topics. And you have the opportunity to exchange ideas in a group with other foster families who have taken in a young refugee.

How old are the unaccompanied young refugees as a rule?

Around 90 percent of unaccompanied minor refugees in Hamburg are between 15 and 17 years old, and a relevant number of children are between ten and 14 years old. Only a small number of children under ten are represented. Around 90 percent of the young refugees who have come alone are boys.

Which countries of origin do the unaccompanied young refugees come from?

The main countries or regions of origin are Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia and the Middle East (including Syria). Another significant proportion of the young people come from North Africa (Egypt, Morocco), West Africa (Guinea, Gambia) as well as Iran and Iraq.

Is it possible to take in an orphan?

In most cases, the unaccompanied young refugees still have parents or parents who live in their country of origin or who were stopped while they were fleeing. In this respect, the young refugees are often concerned with getting back in touch with their parents or finding out where they have stayed. In some cases, parents can also travel to Germany or come to Germany as part of family reunification. Foster families should therefore be prepared for the fact that the child's perspective in the family is limited. Orphans are rarely among the young, unaccompanied refugees.

Can we take in a young refugee if we have young children?

It is not possible to take in a foster child if there is a child under the age of two with your family. If you have older children, the rule that the foster child should be the youngest child in the family if possible. In individual cases, however, it can also be decided that a foster child will be accepted who is older than the children already living in the family. This would be clarified together in the context of the personal initial discussion and the preliminary consultation.


Can we apply as a foster family if we live outside of Hamburg?

Young unaccompanied refugees who have been taken into custody in Hamburg are usually accommodated within Hamburg. In individual cases, however, placement in a foster family outside of Hamburg is also possible. So you can also apply as a foster home with a place of residence outside of Hamburg. You can also inquire at your local youth welfare office as to whether unaccompanied underage refugees who are to be placed in foster families have been accepted in your municipality or your district.

What requirements do you need as a foster family in terms of income and living space?

Foster families need an income that is higher than the social assistance rate so that they do not have to rely on the care allowance. The young refugee should have the opportunity to live in their own room. All family members need a place to retreat and sleep outside of the shared living room.


Can we continue to work full-time after taking in a young refugee?

The most important thing when you take in a school-age child or teenager is that they can be present at home when the child is away from school. Perhaps you can organize your working hours flexibly or reduce them accordingly. When admitting the child or young person, you may have to bridge a few weeks during which there is still no school place available. In this case, vacation or special leave might have to enable a caregiver to look after the child at home.


What exactly do we have to do to become a foster family?

The first step is to take part in an information evening “Full-time care for young refugees” at PFIFF. This is followed by an initial personal interview with the foster child service in your residential district. Interested parties from Wandsbek, Altona or Bergedorf can also apply to PFIFF.
If the formal requirements are met, you will take part in two seminars to qualify long-term foster families. The seminars are offered partly as weekend seminars, partly in the form of evening events and comprise a total of 30 hours. This is followed by a personal preliminary consultation or aptitude assessment, which includes around five meetings including a home visit. The entire process of preliminary advice and qualification can take six to nine months.

For an initial contact, please contact our office on 040.41 09 84-60.


Contact person in our young refugees team:

Anja Hense
040.41 09 84-69
0176.30 17 63 24


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