It was announced that there is intention for the Home Office to act as a corporate parent to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking children. (We're sorry, but the article is behind a paywall). This comes amidst the Home Office having acted outside, or being given temporary exceptions from, provisions in the children act 1989 which has allowed them to house UASC young people in hotels and the local authorities in which they are placed have no statutory responsibility for them.
This 'exception' to the rules has clearly placed young people at significant risk, with reports of racial abuse within the hotels, the recent announcements of hundreds of children going missing from accommodation and the painstaking work of the observer demonstrating that many of these young people are being exploited. It has been branded by many as a catastrophic failure of child protection practice,.In previous work with the Refugee and Migrant Children's Consortium, charities called on the practice to stop, amid the rising and very serious concerns for safeguarding and child protection. There is clearly very serious concerns in current practice.
We do not however feel, that giving the Home office corporate parenting responsibilities is the right approach and further, feel like this will further fuel harm. Nick Watts, Director at Together with Migrant children said;
Any suggestion to create a two tier system of support and protection is dangerous and a serious affront to children's rights. The idea that based on where you are from and how you arrived dictates the level of support you receive and from who, when it comes to the statutory responsibilities towards children, is rooted in othering and a further example of how we are failing those seeking protection.
We consider that the UNCRC is clear that children who are seeking refuge are recognised as being some of the most vulnerable young people with our support and protection systems and affords them special protection (article 22). The creation of a two tier system where based on your immigration position in the UK you are given one corporate parent over another is unacceptable and in reality will affect the quality of care that is received. Nick continues;
In reality the failures of the Home Office are plain to see in many areas. From the adult NASS system (asylum support) we can see the enormous pressures on the system and the inadequacy of much of the support provided. We are already hearing and directly seeing the harm of young people placed in hotels. We simply cannot trust the Home Office to effectively safeguard children and young people based on the evidence available to us.
The most serious concerns, as already discussed is the further differentiation of services along lines of immigration status and the already disgraceful way children have been failed in this situation.
We stand firm on our calls to abolish hotel accommodation for young people, for their services to remain within local authorities according to the Children Act 1989 and according to the most basic principles of children's rights and continue to call for local authorities to be properly funded and given the resources to provide the care and support needed for this vulnerable group of young people.
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