New safeguarding strategy for asylum-seeking and refugee children

Today the Department for Education and the Home Office jointly published a new safeguarding strategy for unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children, and revised statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of these children.

The safeguarding strategy contains plans to provide specialist training for 1,000 foster carers and support workers, and to conduct research on the effectiveness of existing support for unaccompanied children and families reunited under the Dublin Regulation and whether more help is needed.

Kamena Dorling, Head of Policy and Programmes at Coram Children’s Legal Centre said:

“Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) 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. Thanks to charitable funding, we train over 1,000 individuals a year and have published three editions of ‘Seeking Support’, the only comprehensive guide to working with, and caring for this group. CCLC has provided advice and information on the rights of unaccompanied children and young people for over 12 years, and witnessed first-hand how social workers, foster carers and other practitioners struggle to deliver the right care for this group due to the complex laws and processes involved.

We look forward to working with the government to help deliver the commitments in this strategy, and to help the children and young people at the heart of it to make their rights a reality.”

CCLC contributed to the revision of the guidance earlier in 2017. See also: