The Department for Education has expanded its guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children, following requests from its consultation.
The guidance was originally created to set out the steps local authorities should take to provide support for looked-after children who are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and child victims of trafficking. The consultation looked to expand the guidance to include, among other things:
The consultation also led to amendments across other sections of the guidance, including, among other things:
Following the consultation, the Department for Education intends to review the guidance in 2020, if it is considered no longer fit for purpose. It also intends to make minor amendments between now and the next review, as and when new legislation affecting this cohort of children is introduced.
Alongside the consultation review, the Government has also released its strategy outlining its commitments to safeguarding unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children.
In response to the guidance, Kamena Dorling, Head of Policy and Programmes at Coram Children’s Legal Centre, said:
‘Coram Children’s Legal Centre welcomes the Government’s long-anticipated safeguarding strategy for unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children. The strategy's clear message is that these children are children first and foremost and must not be defined by immigration status. All children seeking protection in the UK must have access to the care, services and support they desperately need, and we are pleased that the best interests of the child have been at the heart of the government's approach in developing this strategy.
As a specialist centre for child rights, we fully support the revised statutory guidance's clearer references to the need for children to access legal advice and representation. We also commend the Government's commitment to improving the information and advice available to children and families who have been reunited from across Europe through the Dublin Regulation. We hope that the Government will continue to work with local authorities to improve and resource the National Transfer Scheme, and ensure that children are only transferred to different parts of the country when it is in their best interests.
We particularly welcome the Government’s commitment to “supporting professionals caring and working with these children through revised guidance, information and resources”, and especially the commitment to fund and develop downloadable training resources for social workers and to commission additional training places for carers.’