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Asylum: Children

Department for Education written question – answered on 25th March 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister for Local Government (Communities), Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities place unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in regulated care homes.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that they meet the needs of their looked-after children, including unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and they must ensure that care placements facilitate this.

Each care placement must consider the individual needs of the child and local authorities must have flexibility meeting those needs.

The department recognises the benefits of placing UASC in family-based environments whenever possible. The Safeguarding Strategy for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children commits us to developing resources to support recruitment of supported lodging hosts as a form of semi-independent accommodation.

While there is a place for independent and semi-independent provision in the care system, it is clear that reform is needed to ensure it is being used appropriately and meets the needs of the young people placed there. The department is moving to take action on these issues and has launched a consultation on reforms to the use of independent and semi-independent provision. The consultation covers proposals including banning the placement of children under-16 in this provision and introducing new mandatory quality standards for provision.

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