Today's education in the media blog looks at our new safeguarding strategy.
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
On Wednesday 1 November, we announced our new safeguarding strategy focusing on support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). This included:
- Specialist training for 1,000 foster carers and support workers to improve their skills and confidence in caring for unaccompanied child migrants;
- Updated guidance for councils on caring for unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery;
- Research to be commissioned on the effectiveness of existing support for unaccompanied children and families reunited under the Dublin Regulation and whether more help is needed.
New training for foster carers who support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is part of a new safeguarding strategy announced yesterday. The training, which will be made available to 1,000 foster carers and support workers, is backed by updated statutory guidance, a review of local authority funding and a drive to improve inter-agency advice and information sharing. It complements the guidance already available to every foster carer as part of their duties under the government’s Prevent strategy.
These measures are part of a wider government strategy to improve support for councils as they care for these children, and delivers on a commitment made last year as part of the Children and Social Work Act. Other measures in the strategy will help prevent children from going missing and support those who are reunited with family members.
The announcement has been covered by the Guardian and backed by both Unicef UK and the Refugee Council.
Lily Caprani, Deputy Executive Director of Unicef UK, said:
The Government’s new safeguarding strategy and revised statutory guidance are positive steps forward for unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children. Unaccompanied children in the UK are a particularly vulnerable group, with very specific needs that require a coordinated response prioritising children’s rights and best interests.
We welcome the holistic approach set out in the new safeguarding strategy, including improved training and support for social workers, increased educational support, and a better process for children with a right to have their asylum claim transferred to allow them to be with family in the UK.
Judith Dennis, Policy Manager at the Refugee Council, said:
We very much welcome the publication of this strategy and the work that has been done by both departments to make it happen.
We are particularly pleased to see commitments to ensure foster carers and social workers understand the asylum process and are better able to meet the specific needs of children alone in the asylum system. We look forward to the actions promised in this strategy becoming a reality.