Child Welfare Systems and Migrant Children: A Cross Country Study of Policies and Practice

By Marit Skivenes; Ravinder Barn et al. | Go to book overview

5
IMMIGRANT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
IN THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IN AUSTRIA

Christoph Reinprecht


INTRODUCTION

This chapter discusses the significance of child protection services for immigrant children and families in Austria. The country represents a particular case: in recent years, Austria has become one of most important immigration countries in the European Union, and it has also played a key role in the international migration system. Since the 1990s the number of immigrants has risen remarkably; today, around 18% of the population is foreign born. In Vienna and other cities, around one-third of the population is foreign born. However, public opinion and institutional realities lag behind these developments, and the country continues to struggle with the idea of being an immigrant country. At the institutional level, changes are occurring only slowly. In recent years, these changes have become apparent, for instance in the establishment of an Undersecretary of State for “Integration Affairs,” in a shift toward a “selected immigration policy” targeting highly qualified immigrants (through the so-called “Red-White-Red-Card”—the colors of the Austrian national flag), or in the establishment of a system that monitors integration in municipalities and public services. This chapter casts light on the fact that the cultural and ethnic diversification of children and families has so far not lead to a substantial adjustment of the family and child protection services in Austria. This is also related to the conservative character of the Austrian welfare system. At the same time, increasing tensions between child welfare services and migration policy can be observed and may point to upcoming institutional reforms.

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