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Increase in arrival of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children strains Kent CC’s resources

Jenny Coles, President of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, has called for help from central government to aid the efforts of Kent County Council which is facing the challenge of accommodating an increasing number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving across the English Channel. She said:

"The increasing numbers of asylum-seeking children arriving alone in Kent the past few weeks and months has created an acute and immediate capacity issue for the council. Despite their best efforts the authority is unable to safely accommodate any more new arrivals at this time. Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people have experienced a lot in their short lives; many have fled their homes and risked their lives in search of safety. They both need and deserve our compassion and support.

"Local authorities want to play their part in responding to this humanitarian crisis, but in order to do so we need the government's help and support. Many children have already been settled across the country via the national transfer scheme, however, the challenges we all face, from not being fully funded for our important work in this area and a shortage of suitable placements to the dearth of mental health support, are still the same as in 2016 when the French authorities cleared the camps in Calais. We need to work together to ensure that children's best interests remain at the heart of all arrangements and that local services are safely able to meet any additional demand; children's lives and futures are at stake."