ADVICE FOR CARERS
Foster Care for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children in the UK
If you’ve been watching or reading the news recently, it’s been hard to miss the headlines about the increase in unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people coming to the UK to seek asylum.
Often these young people have travelled to the UK in extremely difficult, frightening and unsafe ways.
This, as you can imagine, has had flow-on effects for the foster care system, including for independent foster care agencies across London and the UK. At Lika, referrals of asylum-seeking young people are at the highest we have ever seen.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at the situation, and what it might mean for foster carers.
Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASCs) are young people who travel from their home countries to a third country, like the UK. They have travelled independently, either by choice or because they have been separated from their families.
Quite often these young people have been smuggled into the country to start a new life. Most young people have left their home countries due to religious, cultural, or sexual persecution. Worries about safety from war, terrorism and political instability often contribute to why young people leave their homes and family.
UASCs have the right to be looked after by the UK government, under the Children Act 1989.
UASCs usually become the responsibility of the Local Authority in which they present. This has placed additional pressure on some Local Authorities, particularly Kent, Hillingdon, and Croydon. These boroughs have significant ports of entry. Croydon has the Asylum Intake Unit based in the borough.
Young people new to London need time to adjust. UASCs often have few connections to the UK and are eager to learn English, be connected to school and become part of their community.
While the foster carer experience is always unique, caring for a UASC is likely to bring with it some special and specific needs. For example:
- If the young person follows a faith, becoming connected to a mosque or church
- Supporting the young person to access their appointments with solicitors and the Home Office
- Connecting to a local school. Local Authorities take the lead with this. However, a foster carers’ knowledge of the local area is often invaluable.
- Helping young people to become part of after-school activities or groups where they can meet other young people.
- Being mindful of trauma-informed care. Many asylum-seeking young people have experienced trauma in their home countries or during their journey. This is an area that Lika has extensive experience in and can offer support with.
- If the young person is learning a new language, providing resources and opportunities for language development. Effective communication is essential for their integration and well-being.
- Assisting young people in exploring and maintaining their personal identity, while also fostering a sense of belonging in their new environment, community, and peers.
- Helping young people to gradually transition to independence by teaching life skills, like cooking, laundry, and managing their living space.
- Helping young people to understand the laws, rules, and cultural norms of the UK. This can prevent misunderstandings and ensure their safety.
Being a Lika foster carer means receiving specialised and consistent support from our expert team of professionals.
Your support will include:
- One to four weekly supervisions with your supervising social worker to talk through and understand the needs of your young person
- 24/7 out-of-hours access to one of the Lika team, so you’re never unsupported if things feel difficult.
- Access to Lika’s team of skilled and knowledgeable Systemic Psychotherapist Consultants and Systemic Social Work Practitioners, who are never stuck for ideas on how to support
- Virtual monthly foster carers support meetings, led and chaired by experienced foster carers
- Virtual fortnightly Therapeutic Family Consultations, facilitated by one of our psychotherapists and open to all our agency’s foster carers
- Life coaching for foster children, birth children and foster carers
- Our Mentor Support Scheme, which partners new foster carers with more experienced foster carers
- Free training for fostering support networks. (Your family and friends are welcome to join any of the training Lika offers.)
- Access to Lika’s Support Workers, depending on the level of need for the young person
- Access to Lika’s Educational Consultant, who can offer ideas and advocacy in supporting young people to achieve in education
- Help from Lika’s Systemic Social Work Practitioners/Therapists, who can undertake skilled direct work without waiting lists for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS
- 14 to 21 days of paid respite (depending on complexity) to recharge your batteries and have some space for self-care.
If you’re in London or the surrounding areas and you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, give the helpful team at Lika a call on 020 8667 2111. We’re here to answer all your questions.
We’re in the Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Bexley, Bromley, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing, Haringey, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Westminster, Enfield, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames, Waltham Forest, Harrow, Essex, Nuneaton, Tameside