Children in Care: Unaccompanied Minors
Unaccompanied minors, also known as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), are a vulnerable group of children who arrive in England without a parent or legal guardian to care for them. These children are entitled to support and protection from the local authority under the Children Act 1989 and the Immigration Act 2016. In this article, we will discuss the challenges faced by unaccompanied minors looked after by local authorities in England and the support available to them.
Challenges faced by unaccompanied minors
Unaccompanied minors face a range of challenges when they arrive in England, including language barriers, cultural differences, and trauma from their experiences. Many have fled conflict, persecution, or other forms of violence in their home country, leaving them with physical and emotional scars. These experiences can also impact their mental health and wellbeing, making it difficult for them to adjust to their new surroundings.
Language barriers can also make it challenging for unaccompanied minors to access education, healthcare, and other essential services. In addition, cultural differences can cause misunderstandings and difficulties in communication, particularly with those who may not be familiar with their cultural background. As a result, unaccompanied minors may feel isolated and struggle to form relationships with those around them.
Support available to unaccompanied minors
Local authorities have a legal duty to provide support and protection to unaccompanied minors, including accommodation, education, and healthcare. They must also appoint an independent advocate to represent the child's views and interests. The local authority will also work with the Home Office to assess the child's asylum claim and provide legal support.
In addition to these statutory provisions, there are a range of other support services available to unaccompanied minors, including specialist legal advice, mental health support, and practical support with day-to-day tasks such as accessing public transport or opening a bank account. Charities and community organizations also provide support to unaccompanied minors, including advocacy, mentoring, and cultural activities.
Unaccompanied minors looked after by local authorities in England face a range of challenges, including language barriers, cultural differences, and trauma from their experiences. However, local authorities have a legal duty to provide support and protection to these children, and there are a range of other support services available to them. It's essential that these children are provided with the necessary support to help them rebuild their lives and integrate into their new communities.