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ADCS statement on Illegal Migration Bill

ADCS President Steve Crocker said:

“The Association has significant concerns about the government’s Illegal Migration Bill and the damaging effect it will have on children who are fleeing desperate situations. As Directors of Children’s Services, we have a duty to safeguard all children in our care and to ensure they receive the right support that meets their needs. If this legislation is passed, it will run counter to a number of our fundamental responsibilities set out in the Children Act 1989, such as securing permanence and having consideration for children’s wishes and feelings. ADCS is clear that all new legislation must be child focussed and protect their rights, yet this Bill seeks to do the opposite and removes such protection from a specific group of children.

“All children in this country, irrespective of where they were born, have the right to a safe and nurturing environment. Just last month the government outlined its plan to reform the children’s social care system rooted in ‘stable homes, built on love’, a key set of policy proposals, the vast majority of which ADCS has supported; however, the provisions set out in this Bill largely contradict the government’s own vision for children in our care. We also hold real concerns about the unintended safeguarding risks the Bill creates for children and families, including the arrangements for vulnerable children who are detained with their family in Home Office accommodation. The Bill creates an incentive for children to run away before they turn 18 into the arms of exploiters and traffickers to avoid being returned to their home country. There will also be a significant increase in age disputes given the increased incentive for adults to claim to be children.

“If implemented, the Bill will irreversibly distort the care system. The care system is not, nor should it, a holding mechanism for the immigration system. When a child first comes into our care, our primary focus is to find them a permanent, stable home as set out in statute. We cannot carry out this essential work if they are to be removed as soon as they turn 18 years old despite having care leaving rights and entitlements up to 25 years. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that in all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. Sadly, this Bill is a clear step away from over 30 years of custom and practice in this country.”


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