Coram Children’s Legal Centre is deeply concerned at reports suggesting the Home Office may legislate to become the corporate parent of an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.
The reports came from an article in The Times (Home Office will act as legal parent for child refugees, The Times, 15 February). The UK has a long history of protecting unaccompanied children in the UK, and local authorities have a legal duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of these children within their area. This is the fundamental purpose of the child protection framework.
There are already significant problems with the system, with huge numbers of children being diverted from appropriate care and being placed in hotels with insufficient support, where they are at greater risk of being trafficked or exploited. The solution to these problems should never be to further dilute the protection we owe to children.
These children are being excluded from well-established child protection and welfare frameworks largely as a result of their immigration status. We urge the Home Office to abandon any plans that tear away at the fundamentals of our child protection system, to properly resource local authorities to care for unaccompanied children, and to ensure that children seeking asylum are properly supported by trained professionals.