Comment on UASC arrivals and age assessments
Commenting on UASC arrivals and age assessments, ADCS Vice President Charlotte Ramsden said:
“Where unaccompanied asylum seeking children arrive in this country, their care and best interests must be at the heart of any decision made. These children and young people are fleeing desperate situations and arrive here alone in search of safety, whilst many already have a connection to this country, such a family members. The increasing numbers of arrivals in gateway authorities, such as Kent and Portsmouth, by boat over the past year has created unprecedented demand on their services and though councils will do all that they can to help, we need more support from government. For example, there are unresolved and ongoing issues with the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) that the Association has been raising for a number of years. These include issues around funding rates, and making immigration decisions more quickly so that children and young people have certainty about their immigration status before their 18th birthday.
“Conducting age assessments is complex and specialist work and is frequently the subject of legal challenge; individual local authorities cannot be expected to undertake this alone. ADCS has been encouraging the Home Office and the Department for Education to think longer term about the establishment of a national resource for some time. This should absolutely be social work based with specialist training in place and any decisions made must be concluded at pace. Engaging with gateway local authorities in particular will be key here; they have lots of expertise in this area. The safety and best interests of asylum seeking children must be at the heart of any reforms. All children and young people who are eligible deserve to be given the right support to meet their needs and welfare.”