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A new safeguarding strategy has been announced by the government to improve the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children. 

As of March 2017, 4,560 children looked after by local authorities were unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and the government has set out a new commitment to ensuring that every local authority feels capable of supporting their individual needs by ensuring that professionals have the right skills and experience to deliver high quality care. 

Supporting professionals to deliver high quality care

The government has updated its statutory guidance for local authorities, offering clear definition for how they should plan for the provision of support for looked after children, specifically those who are unaccompanied asylum seeking or migrant children, or those who are child victims of modern slavery. 

As part of the strategy, downloadable training resources will be made available for social workers to understand their role within a child’s asylum claim and good practice resources will be commissioned for those undertaking “triple pathway planning” for unaccompanied children. These resources will give social workers the tools to tackle the issues faced by children with an uncertain future; they may be returned home at 18, they may be eligible to stay pending a further decision or they may be granted permanent leave. 

These new resources will allow social work practitioners to build stronger, trusting relationships with unaccompanied children, which will tackle the risk of child going missing because they feel unsupported in their asylum application. 

Offering new training for foster carers and support workers. 

The new strategy also outlines the role played by foster carers nationally, and plans have been made to increase the number of available foster carers nationally, by ‘myth-busting’ what is involved in caring for unaccompanied children, and addressing specific concerns such as radicalisation. 

To support this, a new training scheme has been launched which will allow both foster carers and support workers to be more alert to specific needs, recognise the impact of trafficking and help them understand how to apply for practical support to prevent children going missing. 

The training, which will available to 1,000 foster carers, will be allocated to each local authority, depending on the number of places they have pledged as part of the National Transfer Scheme. 

What do you think about this new safeguarding strategy? Do you think it will help provide further support for unaccompanied children? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below, or send us a tweet to @SanctuarySW 
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