Next Upcoming Event

Tue, 09 Jul 24 10:00

UASC Children deserve a plan - the MJ

Unaccompanied asylum seeking (UAS) children have received substantial media attention in recent months. These children and young people are extremely vulnerable, far removed from their families and local communities which sadly places them at increased risk of being exploited by individuals and gangs. They each have their own stories to tell and each require the right support and care specific to their individual needs. Although discussion has often focussed on the systemic challenges to providing the right support, we must not lose sight of the individual children and young people who are relying on us getting this right.

ADCS has been actively engaging with the Home Office and Department for Education to help find workable solutions to find the right placements for UAS children, however, we still have a way to go. The recent High Court judgement on 27 July was clear that housing them in hotels is unlawful with local authorities (LA) holding the statutory duty to provide accommodation for these children who are looked after, regardless of where they come from. This poses its own challenges for LAs to find the right placement when there is a national shortage. We need to work together, as a sector, to find workable solutions to mitigate the immediate pressures created by the judgement, for example, a specific foster care recruitment campaign focusing on recruiting foster carers able to meet the needs of UAS children would create extra capacity. But it is only one of a number of suggestions ADCS has put forward to government to help relieve some of the immediate pressures.

Kent County Council in particular, but also other port authorities, continue to face significant pressures and many LAs have provided assistance by supporting and placing UAS children in their own authorities. However, our collective capacity to do so is limited by a national shortage of placements and insufficient funding, not to mention some providers profiteering from the care of vulnerable children. The National Transfer Scheme (NTS) was created in 2016 to disperse all UAS children to different LAs across the country, but the scheme was designed initially as voluntary, and never envisaged the dispersal of such high numbers of children. We need a comprehensive system-wide review of how the NTS operates. Current Home Office funding does not even come close to meeting the costs of placements and the wrap-around support required. That is even more of an issue for care leavers, particularly those still awaiting a decision on their asylum application.

ADCS has consistently advocated for the development of a coordinated plan over the short, medium and long term to meet the needs of UAS children rather than the system continuing to focus on the immediate leaving us in a frustrating but entirely predictable cycle of events. This relies on all partners working as part of a system in a creative and solution focused way to tackling the underlying problems that require our attention.

John Pearce, ADCS President 2023/24

This article firts appeared in the MJ on 9 October - UASC children deserve a plan (

Tags assigned to this article:

Related Articles