Fence with lights in the background

Covid-19 Reinforces the Importance of Case Management: Learn tips and positive practices from ATD pilots aimed at reducing immigration detention

Written by Barbara Pilz

The European ATD Network has published a new outcome document summarising the discussions of a peer-exchange workshop between ATD pilot implementers held in late 2019. What useful insights and practical guidance does the outcome document bring to other organisations and civil society actors interested in implementing this model? How are these outcomes relevant during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond?

Learning from experience

The outcome document outlines key steps and foundations of the process and practice of implementing case management ATD pilots in the context of the European ATD Network. This publication was developed from a peer-exchange workshop held in Nicosia, Cyprus, attended by representatives of organisations working in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, and Poland.

Among the participants were experienced case managers and advocacy staff who have been working on the ground everyday implementing case management based ATD pilots, since 2017. Their fruitful discussions and constructive contributions resulted in a comprehensive reference document for European ATD Network members, as well as for civil society organisations and other stakeholders interested in developing similar programmes drawn from the Network’s approach.

“It’s not once we’ve learned something we can apply to every client. We need to reinvent what we are doing from the beginning each time because what applies for one person may not apply for another. In this sense we’re never ‘experienced’ because each time we need a new/individual approach.” Aneta Morfova, Caritas Bulgaria (Workshop participant)

Where to start?

The report offers an outline of what pilots practically do in each phase of the case management process. It also includes examples of what is important to do and keep in mind in each phase and the reasons why, as well as examples of positive practices.

In addition, the outcome document offers a step-by-step guide to support the practical implementation of case management pilots as part of a strategy aimed at systemic change and reduction of detention. The document also discusses the main foundations of effective case management, which distinguish quality case management from other types of case work.

Also included, is an accessible account of the theoretical framework behind our case management model.

Constructive advocacy

The pilot projects are part of a strategy for systemic change to reduce immigration detention.

In the context of increasing use of immigration detention by European governments, members of the European ATD Network recognised the need for new and creative approaches to achieve change on immigration detention in their countries, complementing ongoing work to problematise detention. For pilot implementers, ATD provide the basis for constructive advocacy, proposing solutions for ways governments can meet migration management goals, without detention.

A key part of this strategy is that pilots undertake “advocacy through doing.” This involves case managers developing day-to-day communication with front line officers on individual cases, building collaboration and trusting relationships, and getting people released from detention into the ATD pilot.

By speaking to the authorities’ interests and collaborating on shared objectives, pilots aim to shift mentalities among government officials at different levels away from the need to detain, towards the benefits of community-based alternatives. The key message is that with trust and support it’s possible for people to resolve their cases in the community, without harmful and costly detention.

The document shares examples of this type of advocacy strategy, including supportive actions and positive practices.

Working together

The Network’s work is collective and aimed at building momentum nationally and regionally on engagement-based alternatives as a route to change. With more organisations and actors onboard, the higher the chances of achieving our goal. Could your organisation implement this model? Do you know an organisation that would be interested in doing so?

Browse through our website for more information, key resources, and to get in touch.