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Consultation launched on care for unaccompanied and trafficked children

Proposals welcomed by The Children’s Society

The Department for Education has launched a consultation concerning the support provided by local authorities to unaccompanied and trafficked children.
The DfE is seeking views as to whether both the proposed regulations and statutory guidance will be helpful in ensuring that trafficked children receive the specialist support and care that they need.

The proposed regulations will, for the first time, require that a child's status as an unaccompanied or trafficked child be recorded in their care plan and considered in their assessment of needs. They also require that this status be considered when the local authority is reviewing the case. Similarly, this status must be considered in assessing needs of relevant children and in pathway planning.

The guidance will make clear what is expected of local authorities in planning for and providing care to unaccompanied and trafficked children. Whilst, the DfE says, local authorities should already be taking the steps described, this is the first time these steps have been set out in statutory guidance.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children's Society, welcomed the consultation:

"The announcement of a trial system of specialist legal advocates and the requirement for local authorities to make sure trafficked children's needs – and those of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children – are prioritised, mark a significant breakthrough in protecting them.

"The Children's Society has long been calling for every trafficked child to be recognised first and foremost as a child in need and not as an 'immigration problem'. Too often, when they come into contact with the authorities, they have been treated with suspicion and doubt. This has left many without the support they need to recover and at risk of further abuse and exploitation.

"To be fully effective, the system of legal advocates needs to be provided to all unaccompanied children and secured in law under the Modern Day Slavery Bill."

The consultation, which closes on the 25th March, can be accessed here.