Improving child-appropriate care and support in Swiss asylum centres

Refugee children and teenagers are among the most disadvantaged population groups in Switzerland. So that they may overcome their experiences and develop healthily, they need child-friendly activities and child-appropriate accommodation.

Coaching and courses on child-friendly activities

Through our pilot project “Child and adolescent-friendly spaces” and our consultation activities in Swiss asylum centres, we have gained reliable expertise in child-appropriate care, support and accommodation for refugee children and teenagers.

Staff in asylum centres often do not have the necessary time resources or knowledge to offer good-quality learning and play activities that promote the development of children and teenagers.

We therefore offer courses for employees on selected topics. If necessary, we also support them with several months of on-site coaching to help them develop and implement regular activities specially for children. In addition, we offer quick courses on using the learn and play cart we have developed, including instructions for activities.

Our courses deliver specialist knowledge and practical tips in areas such as:

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Child-appropriate furnishing of spaces and skill-promoting activities with children

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Pedagogical approaches and operational principles

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Use of our learn and play cart

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How to structure a learn and play unit for children.

Courses for asylum centres in German pdf - 269,81 KB

Specialist in child and adolescent-friendly spaces at Save the Children Switzerland, during a course with staff from an asylum centre.

We have learnt how to implement with few resources a wide variety of games, strategies and structures for children of different age groups while also catering for children’s wishes.

Course participant

Instructions for child-friendly activities

Based on our pilot project “Child and adolescent-friendly spaces”, we have developed instructions for easy-to-implement, child-friendly activities.

To implement the activities, no previous knowledge, little preparation and hardly any special materials are required. The activities promote different skills in children and teenagers, such as thinking and speaking, social interaction or fine and gross motor skills. Moreover, the games and creative activities are fun for the children and make for a pleasant change in their everyday lives at the asylum centre.

Examples of child-friendly activities You can find a selection of activity instructions in this document (in German). pdf - 2,34 MB

Mobile learn and play cart

Our mobile learn and play cart is a child and adolescent-friendly space packed into a handcart – ready for use any time, any place.

In addition to our activity instructions, we have developed a mobile learn and play cart. It contains a basic supply of play and craft materials. This makes child and adolescent-appropriate care and support possible even where space is limited. The cart can be used both indoors and outdoors and can easily be moved by one person.

Pilot project: “Child and adolescent-friendly spaces” (2016-2018

Between 2016 and 2018, we at Save the Children Switzerland implemented the “Child and adolescent-friendly spaces” pilot project at three asylum centres at a federal level. Child-friendly spaces is a programme internationally tested and evaluated by Save the Children to support children and teenagers who live in crisis situations or in shared accommodation.

A safe space, age-appropriate activities, stimuli that support their development and clear structures allow the children to regain a sense of normality and security whilst providing them with direction and stability.

At the end of 2018, we successfully completed the project. During this period, we reached over 1000 refugee girls and boys, who were given the opportunity to benefit from age-appropriate, professional care up to five days per week. Since the hand-over, the asylum centres at the project locations have continued with “Child and adolescent-appropriate spaces” of their own accord.

Project documentation “Child-friendly spaces” EVZ Bern 2016-2018 in German pdf - 1,84 MB

Media coverage on “Child-friendly spaces” in German pdf - 1,23 MB

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