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“At a crossroads” Best of Unicef Research (BOURE 2020)

We are delighted to announce that the report “At a crossroads: Unaccompanied and separated children in their transition to adulthood in Italy” has been awarded as “Best of UNICEF Research and Evaluation” (BOURE 2020).

“At a crossroads. Unaccompanied and separated children in their transition to adulthood in Italy” is a research commissioned by UNICEF, UNHCR e OIM and carried out by Fondazione ISMU, in collaboration with University of Catania and University of Roma Tre.

What is the best of Unicef research 2020?


The Best of UNICEF competition identifies the best studies, that are assessed to be of particular merit on the basis of a number of criteria, such as:

  • Relevance and Interest of the topic and results
  • Methodological rigor
  • Potential impact, including lessons that could inform programmes elsewhere, or the capacity for replication or scaling up.

Each year the Office of Research – Innocenti invites the global UNICEF network to share recently completed research for the Best of UNICEF Research competition.  The results are disseminated in annual Innocenti catalogue publications.

Why our study has been selected?


The Report “At a crossroads: Unaccompanied and separated children in their transition to adulthood in Italy” has been awarded under the following evaluation:


“The main objective of this in-depth study is to provide evidence on the factors that are facilitating or constraining the transition of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) in Italy both at the individual and structural level. The study uses a mixed-methods approach combining and integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches. The quantitative approach collected data on the demographic characteristics of UASC, the conditions linked to their legal status and their geographical presence in the three regions where the research was carried out. The qualitative approach on the other hand helped develop case studies and gathered data using interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with UASC and former UASC. Interviews were also carried out with key social and institutional informants at the regional and national levels.

This study deserves to be ranked one among the winners. It is unique in terms of the topic, comprehensive conceptualization and rigour with which researchers have addressed the research questions. By using ‘triple transition’ concept, the researchers have been able to convincingly argue that unaccompanied and separated children must be seen as individuals growing with multiple and complex realities. Relying exclusively on the chronological age, therefore, to define and facilitate their transitions into adulthood is inadequate. Such an approach will not be able to address challenges children face and/or meet their aspirations and determine their future course of action. The study clearly recognizes the right of children to express their opinion on decisions that affect them personally.  This approach has enabled the reconstruction of a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the multiplicity of situations, subjective difficulties, structural bottlenecks and support factors that determine and have determined their transition to adulthood. To exemplify these complex realities, and to make tangible recommendations, the study has gathered biographical data with rigour, utmost care and sensitivity and the analysis of the data is highly nuanced. Case studies are illuminating, and qualitative results are creatively used to build a cohesive and telling narrative of different categories of USAC in transition. The research points at the need for an inter-sectoral and coordinated approach to address the complex needs of transition of children who are the crossroads of triple transition and suggests the need to expand the educational, economic and social inclusion of USAC. The study and its findings assume great significance in the current politics of international migration.”