Response to Westminster Government’s statement about the safeguarding of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children

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Following the Westminster Government’s statement about the safeguarding of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children, Kevin Williams, chief executive at The Fostering Network, said: ‘The Government’s reiteration of its commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children along with its announcement of a strategy setting out how unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children should be safeguarded is welcome. However, we would like the timescale for the delivery of the strategy to be significantly shortened given that the voluntary dispersal scheme has been in place since July.

‘We look forward to working with the Government on highlighting the need for more foster carers, but would emphasise that it is often more experienced foster carers who will be best placed to meet the particular needs of these children. We do need more people who have experience of caring for traumatised children or who come from the same countries as many of these unaccompanied young people to come forward, and of course there is always a need for more foster carers with the particular skills to look after teenagers, siblings groups and children with disabilities.

‘We agree with the Government that the foster care workforce must be properly resourced and trained to meet the needs of caring for this group of children and young people, and we will continue to play our part in ensuring that this is the case.

‘The fostering sector can, and will, cope very well with this increased demand. Children who have experienced significant trauma, whether that be in other countries or here in the UK, require specialist input, security and stability. Foster carers are often best placed to provide these things. However, we are concerned that the lack of sufficient funding from central Government means some local authorities cannot afford to look after unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children, even if they have foster carers available and willing  - as we have already seen in the case of Leicestershire. The Government must see adequate financial provision as part of their stated commitment to helping “those in genuine need of international protection.”’