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1.5.1 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

RELATED GUIDANCE

Care of Unaccompanied and Trafficked Children: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on the Care of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking and Trafficked Child (2014)

Modern Slavery Act 2015

AMENDMENT

In October 2016, Section 2, Age Assessment was updated with information from the ADCS Asylum Task Force who has worked with the Home Office to provide a set of jointly agreed “good practice documents”. These documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to local authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on local authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.

This chapter is currently under review.


Contents

  1. Scope of this Chapter
  2. Age Assessment
  3. Eligibility of Service
  4. Child and Family Assessment
  5. Provision of Services
  6. Refusal of Services
  7. Unaccompanied Young Asylum Seekers Reaching Age 18
  8. Review of Services


1. Scope of this Chapter

For the purposes of this chapter, a young unaccompanied asylum seeker is a young person who arrives in this country unaccompanied by an adult, with the exception of his/her agent, and has no relatives or legal guardian resident in this country who is able to care for him/her.

This chapter describes the particular issues arising in referrals involving young unaccompanied asylum seekers.

In all such referrals, the Procedures in relation to Single Assessments will apply as set out in the Single Assessment Procedure.

Where a young unaccompanied asylum seeker becomes Looked After, the procedures in this manual relating to Looked After Children apply.


2. Age Assessment

In all cases where a referral is received concerning an unaccompanied young asylum-seeker, an Age Assessment will be undertaken to determine whether he or she is a child.

The Age Assessment will take account of:

  1. The immigration status of the young person;
  2. The young person's accommodation arrangements and needs;
  3. The young person's local connection with the local authority area;
  4. The young person's financial and other support;
  5. The young person's ethnicity and religion; and
  6. The age assessment of the young person and any available information on their agent, their access into this country, the length of time they have been in this country and possible other connections;
  7. Any issues that may indicate that the child is or has been trafficked or a victim of compulsory labour, servitude and slavery.

In determining an unaccompanied young person's accommodation needs, the Single Assessment must have regard to his or her age and independent living skills, and consider the intensity of service required. This may range between independent accommodation, semi-independent accommodation and foster placements.

An interpreter will be used to assist in all assessments.

The assessment of age is a complex task, which usually involves a face-to-face meeting and often relies on professional judgement and discretion. Such assessment may be compounded by issues of disability. Some young people may genuinely not know their age and this can be misread as lack of co-operation. Levels of competence in some areas or tasks may exceed or fall short of our expectations of a child of the same age in this country.

The ADCS Asylum Task Force has worked with the Home Office to provide a set of jointly agreed “good practice documents” (see Age Assessment Guidance and Information Sharing Guidance for UASC). These documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to local authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on local authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.

Where there are concerns that a young person has suffered, is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, for example as a result of trafficking and/or sexual exploitation, the Social Worker must discuss the case with the manager and consider whether the circumstances warrant a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and Section 47 Enquiry. A referral may need to be made to the National Referral Mechanism for potential child victims of trafficking.


3. Eligibility of Service

To be eligible for a service, a young unaccompanied asylum-seeker must be seeking asylum in the UK and have no relative/supporting adult willing to take responsibility for him or her. Where unaccompanied asylum seeker is assessed as a child, they will be supported as a Looked After Child under Section 20 of the Children Act.

For those individuals age assessed as over 18 years old they will be referred to the Home Office who will provide accommodation and support if they meet the Home Office Criteria while they await their Asylum Claim. Child Services will cease involvement.


4. Child and Family Assessments

The caseworker must complete a Child and Family Assessment in all cases if the young person is considered a child.

Child and Family Assessments will be undertaken where appropriate in accordance with the child and Family Assessments Procedures but should not be undertaken without the approval of the social worker's manager.

The circumstances in which a Child and Family Assessment may be appropriate are:

  • Where a young person requires a Looked After placement (This applies to all unaccompanied minors in Bedford);
  • Where a young person presents at risk behaviours and/or appears traumatised or vulnerable;
  • The Child and Family Assessment will inform the Care Plan.


5. Provision of Services

Where an Age Assessment and the Child and Family Assessment identifies that a young unaccompanied asylum seeker is in need of services, the young person should be provided with information about the services available to them from the local authority and other agencies, a welcome pack is available and can be interpreted in several languages.

The young person will also be given assistance to register with a GP and dentist, and enrol in a local school or college. An interpreter should be booked to accompany the young person to appointments with the GP, where necessary, this is the responsibility of the health provider. Advice on this area can be provided by the LAC designated nurse.

Where the Age Assessment identifies that an unaccompanied young asylum-seeker needs to be Looked After, all the procedures in relation to Care Plans, Health Care Plans, Personal Education Plans and Placement Information Records must be completed. See Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure.

All unaccompanied young asylum-seekers who are eligible for a service will be entitled to financial assistance which must first be authorised by the manager. The social worker should arrange for payment of the relevant amounts in accordance with the local authority's detailed financial procedures.

Assistance will be given to young unaccompanied asylum-seekers in relation to appointments at the Home Office.


6. Refusal of Services

The circumstances in which a family or young person may be refused a service are:

  • The young person has provided inadequate documentation;
  • The young person has provided documentation believed to be fraudulent or tampered with in any way;
  • There is an age dispute and an unaccompanied young asylum-seeker presents as over the age of 18.

Where an Age Assessment identifies that a young unaccompanied asylum-seeker does not meet the criteria for a service from Children's Services, but appears to be in need of services from elsewhere, the social worker will refer the young person to the appropriate agency.

In all cases where a service is to be refused, the social worker must consult his or her manager before the decision is made and the letter confirming the decision is sent. Any correspondence received in relation to the decision should be referred to the manager.


7. Unaccompanied Young Asylum Seekers Reaching 18

Where an unaccompanied young asylum-seeker reaches the age of 18, and the young person's legal status remains unresolved, a referral to the UK Visas and Immigration should be made.

Where the young person is Looked After, the case will remain with the Leaving Care Team on the young person's 18th birthday and the Leaving Care Team will be responsible for implementing the procedures in relation to Eligible Young People and Relevant Young People, as appropriate, in accordance with Leaving Care Procedure.

Assistance should be given in advance of their 18th birthday with the necessary applications for housing, Housing Benefit and any other relevant benefits. The social worker must ensure that the young person has accommodation to which to move on his or her 18th birthday.


8. Review of Services

Where a young person is Looked After, his or her case will be reviewed in accordance with the Looked After Reviews Procedure.

End