View NSCB Procedures View NSCB Procedures

10.1 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This document provides guidance to social care staff working in the Children Social Care Division working with unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Nottinghamshire (UASC). The policy and procedure is applicable to all unaccompanied asylum seeking children up to the age of 18 years. This document sets out a process for best practice to assist unaccompanied asylum seeking children to obtain services.

This policy and procedure applies to all staff involved in the care and planning of children and young people who are Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC).

RELATED LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

The law around asylum and immigration has grown and developed over time, the chief references for those working in Children’s Social Care Service is the Children Act 2004

  • Human Rights Act 2000;
  • Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
  • Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families DOH 2000;
  • Local Authority Circular (2003) Guidance & Hillingdon Judgement 2003;
  • The United Nations Convention on the Status or Refugees (UNHCR) of 1951, amended by the 1967 Protocol;
  • UNHCR Refugee Children: Guidance of protection and care. Geneva 1994;
  • Immigration and Nationality Policy for Asylum Seekers;
  • A myriad of legislation dealing with Immigration and Asylum rules and process - Immigration Act 1971, (and the Immigration Rules published under this and updated and amended) Immigration and Asylum Appeals Act 1993, Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, the Nationality Asylum and Immigration Act 2002 and Asylum and Immigration (treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004;
  • Children Act Regulations and Guidance April 2011;
  • Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery (DfE);
  • Securing British Citizenship for Looked After Children(NRPF).

This is an ever changing area and staff need to take account of case law including Hillingdon 2003/Barking and Dagenham 2010.

AMENDMENT

In July 2018, Section 4, Age Assessments was updated with regards to in advance of undertaking an age assessment for an unaccompanied asylum seeking child, local authorities must seek Home Office assistance with verifying the authenticity of identity documents e.g. travel documents or a birth certificate. A link to the relevant contact details for local authorities was added. The statutory guidance was updated to link to the DfE 2017 Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery – statutory guidance for local authorities. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is referenced in relation to age assessments.


Content

  1. Introduction
  2. Department Policy
  3. Procedure for UASC Arrivals in Nottinghamshire
  4. Age Assessments
  5. Age Disputes
  6. Placement and Allocated Workers
  7. Placement Options for UASC
  8. Assessment, Planning and Review
  9. Transition at 18 Years
  10. Administration and Finance

    Appendix A: Actions Required Before 1st LAC Review


1. Introduction

The changing pattern of wars, conflicts and persecution tends to dictate where asylum seekers originate. For each of them there is the reason why they started their journey and their experiences on the way. It may be social care staff are amongst the first people they meet on arrival. For many their experiences prior and up to leaving their homes will have been traumatic, complicated and experienced the loss of significant family members and community, and for many their experience of the journey will also have been traumatic. Therefore they are likely to be the victim of what has been described by Sheila Melzak, Head of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture” Triple Jeopardy” which includes the trauma experienced in their country of origin, their experiences on route and the treatment they are subjected to on arrival i.e. treated as second class citizens, racism and xenophobia (Research in Practice 2005, On New Ground: Supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people).

People seeking asylum may arrive in Nottinghamshire in several ways and this will dictate where they are in the immigration process. They may be new in-country applicants who have found their way to Nottinghamshire and are not known to the Home Office. In other words they have not been identified at a point of entry. For those people seeking asylum and claiming to be aged under 18 years, then the Local Authority is responsible for making its own assessment of age. The Local Authority where an UASC first arrives is responsible for them under the Children Act 1989. There are exceptions to this under the Immigration Act 2016 in relation to transfer and redistribution of UASC within the Home Office scheme.


2. Department Policy

It is the policy of Nottinghamshire Children and Young Persons Department that irrespective of any other label they may be assigned these are children first and foremost.

Therefore all unaccompanied children and young people must receive a full assessment in line with the Department of Health’s National Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families.

After concluding an Age Assessment, if the claimant is identified as a child, then we have a duty to accommodate under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989. UASC are an extremely vulnerable group and as such should be given the maximum provision of care and support under the Children Act until they reach the age of 18. Therefore it is the policy of the department not to discharge any young person from care until they reach the age of 18. This does not mean that they are required to be accommodated in LA accommodation, they could be supported with their accommodation needs and assisted to begin to learn to live independently with the support of the Local Authority.

The majority of unaccompanied children and young people will be entitled to leaving care services under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, to ensure that:

  • Young people do not leave care until they are ready;
  • They receive more effective support once they have left.

Care Leavers are entitled to this support up to the age of 21 at least, as long as they were previously supported under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 for at least 13 weeks subsequent to their 14th birthday and either continue to be ‘looked after’ up to age 18 or have been ‘looked after’ at some time while 16 or 17. They are known as ‘former relevant children’. Local Authority support will continue for as long as the young person has a right to public services. For those young people who are refused asylum, this right to public services may end after they reach 18 years. See section relating to transitions post 18.

Young people who arrive within 13 weeks of their 18th birthday will not qualify for full leaving care services even if they have been provided with Section 20 or 23 support under the Children Act 1989 for the weeks leading up to their 18th birthday, as they have not been ‘looked after’ for 13 weeks or more. They are known as ‘qualifying children’ and although they are not entitled to the main leaving care entitlements, they are entitled to advice, assistance and befriending. For UASC living with family / extended family in the UK see the policy for placement of young people back with families.

Where a UASC becomes Looked After, the procedures in this Manual relating to Looked After Children apply. Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) need to be aware of Local Authority duties to take regard of the child’s needs as an unaccompanied or trafficked child when planning and providing for care. They must also have an awareness of the particular needs and issues children may face as a result of being an unaccompanied or trafficked child so that they can provide appropriate challenge at review. Foster or residential care providers need to be aware of appropriate steps to reduce the risk of trafficked children returning to their traffickers.


3. Procedure for UASC Arrivals in Nottinghamshire

In cases where a new referral is received concerning an UASC presenting in Nottinghamshire, then the Assessment Team will initiate a Child and Family Assessment which will take account of:

  1. The Age Assessment of the UASC (if required);
  2. Ethnicity, religion, gender and language and how these will impact on immediate needs;
  3. Available information regarding how the UASC arrived in the UK, how long they may have been here, possible family or friends that they may be intending to meet;
  4. The UASC’s health and any factors which may increase their vulnerability;
  5. The UASC’s accommodation and financial needs.

Consideration should always be given to the use of interpreters when required. The Local Safeguarding Children Board Practice Guidance for all Agencies titled Safeguarding Children from Abroad also addresses this issue. Unless they are fluent in English it is not possible to conduct an assessment without an interpreter. The County Council has a commissioned service to provide interpreting and translation services to meet this requirement. UASC should be provided with their information and assessments in the language of their choice.

The threshold of eligibility and priority for services are the same for unaccompanied asylum seeking children as any other child. The same thresholds for child protection responsibilities also apply. There is no difference in entitlement to allowances or financial support because of immigration status for children in need, children looked after and care leavers. Where a child is accompanied consideration needs to be given as to their relationship with that adult and whether private fostering duties and responsibilities apply. (See Private Fostering Procedure).

UASC National Transfer Scheme

The crisis in Syria and events in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond have seen an unprecedented number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in Europe. Some have gone on to reach the UK via Northern France, including many UASC. Other children are still in the Middle East or North Africa or are in Europe and the UK Government has committed to resettle a number of these vulnerable children in the UK. That is why, in close consultation with the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Home Office has introduced a National Transfer Scheme underpinned by the powers in the Immigration Act 2016 (formerly identified as the Immigration Bill).

Co-ordinated by the East Midlands Strategic Partnership, Nottinghamshire Social Care alongside the other Local Authorities made up of Nottingham City, Derbyshire, Derby City Leicestershire, Leicester City, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Rutland are to be allocated UASC up to 0.07% of their total regional child population.

This scheme is designed to distribute UASC across the UK in a more fair way. In the main, it is dispersing young people under 18 who have already arrived in the UK, usually through the port of Dover (Kent). The current process under the scheme is for the Regional Office to contact the Leads in the Local Authority area, via email, to notify of UASCs requiring transfer under the transfer scheme.

Devon Allen and Lesley Morecroft are the Local Authority Lead Professionals. The Local Authority Lead Administrator(s) will be situated in the Looked After Children (LAC) Team and can be contacted via: businesssupport.throughcare@nottscc.gcsx.gov.uk).

The Lead Officer (East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership) emails the Unique Unaccompanied Child Record (UUCR) of the UASC waiting to be transferred to the LA Lead Professional(s) enquiring if the Local Authority is in a position to accept responsibility of the UASC. The Lead Professionals will review the UUCR and make a decision whether to accept responsibility of the UASC. Prior to this decision being made, a consultation will take place with the LAC, Fostering and Placement Teams to ascertain available resources and to alert the Teams to the potential reception of the UASC.

If the decision is made that the Local Authority will accept the UASC, the LA Lead Professional will inform the LA Lead Administrator(s) with the attached UUCR via businesssupport.throughcare@nottscc.gcsx.gov.uk

It will then be the LA Lead Administrator(s) responsibility (via secure email) to:

  • Acknowledge the acceptance of responsibility of the UASC to the Lead Officer (East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership), Regional Officer (Home Office) and the Entry Local Authority where the UASC is currently located (details on the UUCR);
  • Update and maintain a local database;
  • Forward the UUCR to the MASH to raise a MASH Enquiry (within 24 hours).

MASH will raise a MASH Enquiry using the information from the UUCR and then transfer the case to either the Assessment Service or LAC Team. When an UASC is already identified as being Section 20 (CA 1989) Looked After then the case will transfer directly to the LAC Team and the normal LAC process is followed from this point:

  • 16+ completion of the Request for 16+ Supported or Emergency Accommodation (A1) form;
  • 15 years or under then completion of Placement Request for Looked After Child.

Once the responsible team (LAC/Assessment Team) have identified when collection of the UASC will be facilitated this will need to be notified to the LA Lead Administrator(s) to complete Part D of the UUCR and send this via secure email to the Lead Officer (East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership), Regional Officer (Home Office) and the Entry Local Authority where the UASC is currently located (details on the UUCR).

The receiving team allocated Social Worker will then receive details and liaise with the Entry Local Authority to confirm the whereabouts and collection arrangements for the successful transfer of the UASC. It is the responsibility of the Receiving Local Authority (in this case Nottinghamshire) to facilitate and provide the transport arrangements for the UASC. The Social Worker will then initiate the Looked After Child process of a Placement Planning Meeting within 72 hours and notification to the Independent Reviewing Officer.

In addition, prior to the 72 hour Placement Planning Meeting, the Social Worker will need to complete the County UASC - Information from Social Care before the Initial Health Assessment (IHA) Form, which replaces BAAF IHA form.

Dubs Cases

Referred to as Dubs Cases due to the initiate being part of the amendment to the Immigration Bill (Immigration Act 2016) as revised by Lord Dubs. This is in relation to the resettlement of UASC within the UK mainly from Europe (Calais). This scheme is being co-ordinated by the Home Office and links with the co-ordination of the National Transfer Scheme for the East Midlands region. Devon Allen and Lesley Morecroft are the Local Authority Lead Professionals in relation to any Dubs cases that are presented to Nottinghamshire.

As any Dubs UASC will not have LAC status in UK, then the referral will be received by the Assessment Team in order to complete the actions of accommodating the UASC under Section 20 (Children Act initiation of the Child and Family Assessment, Placement arrangements and Age Assessment (if required). All Dubs cases will then transfer to the LAC Team at the 72 hour Placement Planning Meeting.

Dublin III Cases

Some UASCs when reaching the UK will identify that they have family members already residing within a UK Local Authority. If there is an UASC who after arriving in the UK identifies that they have family members in Nottinghamshire, then they will be referred to Nottinghamshire Social Care via the National Transfer Scheme contacts. A viability assessment will need to be completed on the identified family members to see if this is an appropriate arrangement for the UASC. If the viability assessment is deemed appropriate then the family are able to make arrangements for the child to be collected by them and reside in their care. As the child is not unaccompanied then they would not be classed as an UASC and therefore not be accommodated under Section 20 (Children Act 1989). This would be identified as a private family arrangement and so there would be no further involvement by Nottinghamshire Social Care unless identified that there is a need for services under Section 17 (Children Act 1989) or further Child and Family Assessment.

If the family members’ are not identified as being viable for caring for the UASC following the Viability Assessment, then unless there are any alternative family accommodation options, then the child will remain being identified as an UASC and will be accommodated under Section 20 (Children Act 1989) by Nottinghamshire Social Care. The usual process for UASC on the National Transfer Scheme will then be followed.

Other Issues relating to UASC on the National Transfer Scheme, Dubs or Dublin III Cases

The UUCR contains information about the UASC’s claimed age and the Entry Local Authority’s initial observations. If there is a dispute with these ages, then it is a decision for the Receiving Local Authority as to whether to accept the UASC’s claimed age or to undertake an Age Assessment at the point of accepting responsibility for the UASC. If an Age Assessment needs to be completed then procedures on completing Age Assessments (see Section 4, Age Assessments) should be followed. The same decision can be taken by the receiving local authority (Nottinghamshire Social Care) in relation to any Dubs or Dublin III cases.

If an UASC goes missing from the care of either the Entry or Receiving Local Authority, then the responsible Local Authority should follow Department for Education (DfE) Statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care January 2014. The UASC should be reported missing to the police of the local area and the Local Authority. All available information (including biometric information) should be shared with the police and the local authority without delay.

Where a child arrives ‘unaccompanied’ in the UK, and after being accommodated by Nottinghamshire Social Care they then declare the presence of a responsible adult in another Local Authority, and the responsible adult is willing and able to care for them, and it is assessed as being in the best interests of the child to be reunited with them, the responsible Local Authority will make arrangements to move the child to live with the adult. At the point where a child is reunited with family members then they cease to be a Looked After Child, and the Local Authority Lead Administrator(s) will complete Part E (Looked after Transfer Status Update) of the UUCR to notify the Lead Officer (East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership) and the Regional Officer (Home Office).


4. Age Assessments

Do you need to Undertake an Age Assessment?

Statutory guidance on the care of UASC states that:

Age Assessments should only be carried out where there is significant reason to doubt that the claimant is a child. Age assessments should not be a routine part of a local authority’s assessment of unaccompanied or trafficked children’.

The phrase “significant reason to doubt that the claimant is a child” has led to considerable discussion amongst professionals involved in Age Assessment practice. What one social worker deems a “significant reason” may differ from another social worker’s opinion the ADCS interpretation of this guidance is that Age Assessments should not be carried out on every person approaching a Local Authority seeking support, but should be used to ensure that appropriate services (including education) are offered. In order to be able to assess the needs of a child, the social worker must be satisfied that the individual is a child, but children should not be subjected to multiple assessments for administrative purposes only. A social worker should be clear what the “significant reason” is to doubt the age, and this should be conveyed to the person claiming to be a child.

This guidance is also relevant where all parties accept that the person is a child but where the exact age is not clear. Many UASC will not be able to provide evidence as to their age, and some may not even know their own chronological age. However, for any individual in the UK to receive services including health, education and identity documents, they will require a date of birth. Any assessment should be limited to the minimum necessary to ensure the UASC receives the appropriate services and educational support for their age and development.

In other circumstances, the child or young person will be able to produce clear information about their age, for example, from documents or from reference to education.

In the majority of cases the need for an Age Assessment will be identified when a person is newly arrived in the UK and is claiming to be under the age of 18 years but with no identification to confirm this. In such cases, the Local Authority will aim to complete all assessments within 28 days, and where unable to do so, need to notify the Home Office of reasons for any delay within 28 days.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, persons believed to be under the age of 18 years will be Looked After under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 whilst the Age Assessment process is completed and verified.

Merton Compliance

This term is used in relation to UASC. The Merton judgment was handed down by Burnton J in the High Court on 14th July 2003, and gives ‘guidance as to the requirements of a lawful assessment by a local authority of the age of a young asylum seeker claiming to be under the age of 18 years’. All Local Authorities are required to follow the Merton judgment, to ensure that their Age Assessments are full and comprehensive, and that the process for assessing age is clear, transparent and fair.

Location / Venue of Age Assessment

In order for an Age Assessment to be Merton Compliant and therefore legal, the venue of the assessment needs to be conducive to helping the child or young person feel safe, comfortable and able to participate to the best of their ability in their interview(s). If a person claiming to be under 18 years requests a specific venue for the Age Assessment interview then that should be facilitated if it is appropriate and possible.

Facilities such as police stations are not considered appropriate for conducting Age Assessments (Home Office 2012). An initial assessment of age can be made ‘without prejudice’ in a police station either to secure release to the Local Authority Care (if deemed under 18 years), or to Home Office accommodation and support if it is clear that the persons is presenting as being over 18 years. If deemed to be under 18 years, then a full Age Assessment (if required) can be completed prior to the 72 Hour Placement Planning Meeting.

Appropriate Adult

In order for an Age Assessment to be Merton Compliant, there must be an Appropriate Adult (AA) present throughout the course of the Age Assessment interview and feedback process, who are independent of the Local Authority. The AA must have the relevant skills and training to undertake their role, and be experienced in working with children and young people. They must be clear and confident about their role, have the skills to support the child or young person in the interview(s) and challenge social workers if they feel the interview is not being conducted appropriately. The role of the appropriate adult is to advocate on behalf of the child or young person, represent their best interests and ensure that the person’s welfare needs are met during the interview process.

Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery (DfE) identifies that where the age of a person is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that they are a child, they are presumed to be a child in order to receive immediate access to assistance, support and protection in accordance with Section 51 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Age assessments should only be carried out where there is no documentary evidence of the child’s age. Where Age Assessments are conducted, they must be Merton Compliant.

Determining a person’s age between fourteen and eighteen years of age is not an exact science and there is no statutory procedure or guidance on how to conduct an assessment of a person claiming to a minor. However, in R(B) v Merton LBC [2003] EWHC 1689 (Admin), Justice Burnton issued ‘guidance as to the requirements of a lawful assessment by a Local Authority of the age of a young asylum seeker claiming to be under the age of eighteen.’ Other than in clear cases, it states that age cannot be determined on appearance alone, an assessment must be carried out based on personal history as well as ethnic and cultural information, social services must not simply adopt the decision of the Home Office or any other professional and the decision maker must give adequate reasons for a decision that an applicant claiming to be a child, is not a child.

In advance of undertaking an age assessment for an unaccompanied asylum seeking child, local authorities must seek Home Office assistance with verifying the authenticity of identity documents e.g. travel documents or a birth certificate. See Age Assessment Guidance and Information Sharing Guidance for UASC (ADCS) for further information and contact details for local authorities.

The ADCS Asylum Task Force has worked with the Home Office to provide a set of jointly agreed “good practice documents”, These documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to Local Authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on Local Authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.

Social Workers should assess from a holistic perspective, and in light of the information available. It is a process of professional judgement and a particularly sensitive issue involving many variables; not least the fieldworker's ability to understand the cross-cultural issues that might apply.

Following completion of the Age Assessment the person being assessed has the right to legally challenge the conclusion. If a person is assessed as being over 18 years then they should be given a copy of the Model Information Sharing Proforma (MISP) and be advised that they are able to seek independent legal advice if they disagree with the outcome.

The Age Assessment must be completed by two workers, one of which must be a qualified HCPC registered Social Worker, and one with competence and experience of undertaking Age Assessments or working with UASC.

The assessing workers should explain their role clearly to the person being assessed. Attention should be paid to tiredness, trauma, bewilderment and anxiety of the person being assessed. It is important to be mindful of the 'coaching' that they may have been exposed to prior to arrival in the UK in respect of how to behave and what to say to professionals. It is important to engage with the person being assessed and establish as much rapport as possible.

Assessing workers should inform the person being assessed that they will have to answer many questions and that it may be difficult and distressing to answer some of the questions. Workers should use open-ended, non-leading questions. The use of circular questioning is a useful method, as it is less obvious to the person being assessed that the questions relate directly to age, and hence may reveal a clear picture of age related issues.

In determining age, note should be made that some societies do not place a high level of importance on age and may calculate it in different ways. Some people will genuinely not know their age, and this can be misread as lack of co-operation. Levels of competence in some areas or tasks might not mirror our expectations of a child of the same age.

It is essential to feed back to the person being assessed the conclusion of the assessment and give them an opportunity to response to the outcome/challenge.

There is no requirement to complete an Age Assessment for a child if they have documentation stating their age or date of birth. However, documentation maybe false, and so status as a Looked After Child will be issued whilst verification of the documents is sought via the National Document Fraud Unit (NDFU). If the document is authenticated then the status quo remains. If discovered to be suspected as false documentation, then an Age Assessment will be completed and if it is deemed that the person being assessed is 18 years or over then a MISP will be completed and sent to the Home Office as they will then be responsible for the person’s accommodation and support.

If a person does not have documentation, and is stating that they are under 18 years of age, and it is believed that although under 18 years, they are likely to be older or younger than what they are claiming, then they should be accommodated under Section 20 and a full Age Assessment completed by the 72 hour Placement Planning Meeting. This should be completed whilst in Foster Care or Semi-Independent placement to ensure that the Age Assessment is Merton Compliant.

If a person does not have documentation, and is stating that they are under 18 years of age, yet no firm decision can be made within the initial assessment of age, then they should be accommodated under Section 20 and a full Age Assessment completed by the 72 hour Placement Planning Meeting. This should be completed whilst in Foster Care or Semi-Independent placement to ensure that the Age Assessment is Merton Compliant. If the outcome of the Age Assessment is that the person is under 18 years then the status quo remains. If the Age Assessment outcome is that the person is deemed to be 18 years or over then a Model Information Sharing Proforma (MISP) will be completed and sent to the Home Office as they will then be responsible for the person’s accommodation and support.

For the people stating that they are under 18 years, but it is clear that they are aged 18 years or older, then an Age Assessment will not be completed. However, a MISP must be completed and sent securely to the Home Office on the same day as the decision is made, as they will then be responsible for the person’s accommodation and support.

If the adult then challenges the decision, full responsibility will be accepted for the individual with a view that a full Age Assessment is completed at an appropriate venue. This could be where the young person is living etc. This will be required to be completed within 72 hours. If the outcome is that they are an adult and over 18 years. The worker will complete a new MISP and send it to the Home Office as they will remain responsible for the person’s accommodation and support.


5. Age Disputes

If the UASC wishes to contest any of the issues raised within the Age Assessment, this could be done initially in discussion with their worker and if necessary with the Team Manager. If the UASC continues to be unhappy they should be given information about the complaints procedure. Complaints leaflets should be given to UASCs and where possible in their own language.

If during the first 3 months of their Looked After status, doubts or concerns are raised regarding a UASC’s age, then there should be a comprehensive review of the Age Assessment which can be re-completed with new information being considered. If the new information, doubt or concerns are after 3 months of the UASC’s LAC status then there should be discussion with the relevant Children’s Service Manager as to whether it is appropriate to complete a new Age Assessment.

It is vital that the agreed age of the UASC is entered on all appropriate records.


6. Placement and Allocated Workers

The Hillingdon Judgement and subsequent guidance (LAC (2003) 13) makes clear that all UASC fall within the scope of Section 20 of the 1989 Children Act. All placements should reflect the assessed needs of the child or young person, although it is acknowledged that needs may change as the assessment progresses and an alternative placement may need to be found. The department will strive to match the assessed or perceived need as follows:

  • All UASC will be accommodated under Section 20 - in a suitable placement in accordance with their age and assessed needs;
  • In very exceptional circumstances, children over the age of 16 may be supported under Section 17, this decision must be endorsed by CSM;
  • If not accommodated under Section 20: Young people are not entitled to care leaver status;
  • If granted Refugee status/Further leave to remain the young person will be entitled to access the welfare benefits system post 18 years;
  • Any completed Age Assessment or Child and Family Assessment will inform the UASC's care plan;
  • All children under 18 years old will be allocated a qualified Social Worker.

The allocated Social Worker will complete any further assessments and put the Care Plan into action. The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) will conduct the initial Looked After Child Review in the same way as for any other Looked After Child. Where there is a dispute/uncertainty about the UASC’s age, then risks need to be identified for the Placement as part of the Risk Assessment within the Placement Request, which should help to minimise the potential dangers to vulnerable person(s) already in that placement, and the welfare and emotional wellbeing of the UASC to be placed. However, it is identified that there will be limited information available for most UASC who either present in Nottinghamshire or from the UUCR issued within the transfer scheme.


7. Placement Options for UASC

A careful evaluation of the young person’s needs and wishes will need to be undertaken in order to identify a suitable placement. A full and considered assessment may not be possible at the initial meeting with the young person, yet it is likely that a placement will need to be identified.

It may be necessary, therefore, to place the UASC temporarily pending further assessment and identification of a suitable placement. The UASC and their carers should be made aware of this, and further assessment undertaken at the earliest opportunity. The temporary nature of the accommodation should be recorded on the LAC papers and the Children’s Service Manager notified if the UASC is still placed in the accommodation after four weeks.

Foster carers will need to be carefully and accurately briefed about the UASC’s cultural, religious and ethnic needs and about the situation/their experience in the home country and during the journey to the UK. Any particular dietary needs will need to be identified and discussed with carers.

The UASC should, at the point of placement, be given the name and contact number of a social worker who they can contact and, where the placement is made by a duty social worker, a social worker should be allocated without undue delay.

The UASC should also be provided with the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) contact details.

The expectations and rules of the placement should be carefully explained to the UASC, together with any financial arrangements that will apply. For those UASC that have presented in Nottinghamshire, then it should be recognised that the UASC’s primary needs are likely to be around food and shelter, a bath, clean clothes and caring adults. The physical appearance of the placement, its location and who lives there should be explained to the UASC before they are taken to the placement. An orientation with the local area will need to be organised to include relevant points of contact with the UASC’s community, support agencies and religion.

N.B. If any UASC goes missing from placement then the PPG entitled ‘Children Missing from Care’ (Chapter 4.149) must be followed in all cases.


8. Assessment, Planning and Review

Assessment will inform more appropriate care planning. It must be managed sensitively to reduce fear, anxiety or confusion. Ethnic origin and life experiences before arrival in this country will influence personal development and may impact on visual or emotional presentation.

Enabling the UASC to be part of the assessment process is extremely important as in most cases they will be the major source of information. Consideration must therefore be given to securing an interpreter with the level of skill and experience necessary to support the individual to understand why an assessment is necessary, and what will happen.

Education and Training

As far as admission to school or college is concerned, UASCs have the same rights as any other Looked After Child in Nottinghamshire. 

When an UASC is admitted to care or moves care placement Part 1 of the Personal Education Plan (PEP) should be completed at or before the Placement Planning meeting. Part 2 of the PEP will be set up within 28 days of coming into care and reviewed at regular and defined intervals. This Plan is initiated by Children’s Social Care but is contributed to by the school, Behaviour Support Service, carers and any other appropriate professionals. The child/young person also has a major input into this plan and is consulted on identified short, medium and long-term targets. If the UASC has Special Educational Needs (SEN) or behavioural difficulties, Individual Education Plans (IEP)s and Pastoral Support Programmes (PSP)s aimed at addressing difficulties and maintaining mainstream provision are set up and included within the PEP.

Assessment Planning and Review Specific Issues

  • The majority of UASC will feel isolated without family or friends in this country;
  • The potential for making contact with birth family in country of origin;
  • Educational attainment will vary greatly, depending on their country of origin, previous formal education and fluency in speaking and comprehension of English;
  • Health problems may not have been diagnosed due to limited health services in their country or origin;
  • Referral to health services (Looked After Child Heath Review) by completing the County UASC - Information from Social Care Before the Initial Health Assessment (IHA) (replaces BAAF IHA) Form (see Appendix A: Actions Required Before 1st LAC Review).
  • Experience of prejudice against asylum seekers;
  • Feelings of uncertainty and anxiety whilst their claim for asylum is considered;
  • The UASC may have suffered torture and be traumatised by this abuse;
  • It is useful to have background information about the UASC’s country of origin;
  • Planning and preparation for possible return to country of origin.

All Looked After Children may experience difficulties because of their situation, the combination of the above factors can only compound the specific vulnerability of UASC.

The UASC should be offered an Independent Visitor and, if they decline, their reasons should be recorded. Any Independent Visitor appointed should have appropriate training and demonstrate an understanding of the needs faced by UASC.

In addition, UASC should be informed of the availability of the Assisted Voluntary Return Scheme.


9. Transition at 18 Years

We need to plan for three possible outcomes for those turning 18. As their asylum status will determine their right to public services as adults. This is known as triple planning and should be part of the statutory planning through the care plan, pathway plan and review process. Planning for three possible outcomes at 18 includes:

  1. Equipping the UASC to have a future in the UK if they receive Leave to Remain in the UK past their 18th birthday, via Pathway Planning;
  2. Preparing the UASC to be returned to their country of origin if they are refused Leave to Remain in the UK and are under instruction to return to their country of origin (with appeals pending); or if they decide to return of their own volition;
  3. Supporting UASC who are refused Leave to Remain in the UK and who have exhausted all legal appeals in respect of their application for Leave to Remain in the UK, but have not yet been returned to their country of origin. These UASC are often referred to as “end of line” or Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE).

In all instances, the UASC’s immigration status and implications post 18 need to be recorded comprehensively in the Pathway Plan, with contingencies should the immigration status change. The law relating to asylum seekers who no longer have Leave to Remain can be complex and terminology can cause confusion and so advice to all UASC should be to seek professional legal advice in relation to any leave application or appeal in respect of their asylum claim.

9.1 Withdrawal of Leaving Care Services

Most young people provided with care as UASC by NCC will fall under category 3.1 Therefore, at or after age 18, their asylum may have been determined and subsequent appeals concluded. For those UASC who gain an Indefinite Leave to Remain or Refugee status, they will continue to receive services under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

Those who have a failed asylum application and who are identified by the Home Office as Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE) do not have status in the UK and are likely to be identified as having a No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) status. The No Recourse to Public Fund policy should be followed in these cases as these former UASC will need to be assessed for any continued right to services. The Immigration Act 2016 identified that failed asylum seekers who were former UASC that are ARE status with the Home Office, no longer have entitlement to continuing services under the guidance of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

Before services from Nottinghamshire Social Care are withdrawn, there should be a Human Rights Assessment completed to identify whether the withdrawal of services would lead to a breach of Article 3 or Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. The former UASC should be informed in writing (translated if appropriate) of the intention to conduct the assessment, how it will be done and who will be consulted and a reasonable timescale should be set. This would usually be achieved within four weeks. If the outcome of the assessment is that the withdrawal of services will not lead to a breach of a young person’s human rights, a reasonable notice period (usually four weeks) will be given to advise the young person of the withdrawal of support. Existing support with accommodation and allowances will continue throughout this period and the young person will be advised regarding alternative avenues of advice and support such as the Refugee Council and application to Asylum Support (via the Home Office).

Asylum Support through UKVI (formally the National Asylum Support Service)

Young people who are entitled to Asylum Support (formerly NASS) when they turn 18 include:

  • Young people who do not have a decision on their initial asylum application (usually affects those who have arrived within 2 months of their 18th birthday);
  • Young people who have an outstanding appeal against an outright refusal of asylum but only if they have not been granted any other form of leave, such as a period of discretionary leave;
  • Young people who have applied for an extension of Leave To Remain ‘out of time’, i.e. after their leave has expired, and their asylum claim is being treated as a ‘fresh application’ by the Home Office (this decision is not made by Asylum Support).

Young people who have Refugee Status, Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave To Remain (including those who are applying for an extension in-time or are appealing a refusal of extension) will be entitled to apply for mainstream benefits and therefore are not usually identified as having No Recourse to Public Funds status.

If the young person is not receiving leaving care support then they will be transferred from Social Care Services support to Asylum Support on their 18th birthday - if they fit the Asylum Support criteria and receive subsistence and accommodation directly from Asylum Support. These young people may be dispersed by Asylum Support. However, if they are receiving some support from Nottinghamshire Social Care as ‘qualifying children’, then it should be possible to argue for the young person to remain in the area where they are receiving this support.


10. Administration and Finance

Upon accepting responsibility for an UASC under Section 20 (CA 1989) then the allocated worker must ensure that the following information is provided to Children and Young People Services Finance Accounting/Budgeting based at County Hall:

  • Name;
  • Nationality; 
  • Place of Birth/Country of Origin; 
  • Language; 
  • Date of birth if known, age or Assessed Age/Accepted Date of birth;
  • Home Office Reference Number; 
  • Port Reference; 
  • Start date for services provided (usually when Section 20 was initiated).

The Accounting Technician is not only responsible for entering any new UASC details on to the departmental database and maintaining and updating these, but also for allocating the UASC an individual cost centre code. Finance are responsible for claiming the Asylum Seekers Grant from the Home Office, who will only pay if our information on UASC match their records. Once the individual cost centre code is issued this needs to be recorded on the Front Screen of Framework with Notes and also as a case note.

Monthly returns are made to the Home office in respect of UASC’s in Nottinghamshire and the grant is paid quarterly in advance based on estimated numbers.

All UASC who are under 18 years now have their own cost centre and all expenditure must be coded to the individual young person. Once a young person reaches the age of 18 then finance need to be informed and the central UASC 18+ cost centre must then be used.

Eligible Expenditure

Only board and lodgings costs are classed as eligible expenditure - everything else is ineligible. We are able to use our discretion to a certain extent e.g. initial clothing costs however managers need to monitor this.

Alternative budget resources from mainstream LAC budgets must be identified for any ineligible expenditure.


Appendix A: Actions Required Before 1st LAC Review

Click here to view Appendix A: Actions Required Before 1st LAC Review

End