Key measures to improve support for children in care must apply to asylum-seeking children, peers argued last week in a House of Lords debate on legislation to implement the government’s Care Matters agenda.
Labour peer Lord Judd said, although the government was going to pilot a scheme allowing looked-after children to remain in foster care until the age of 21, it wanted to place unaccompanied minors in more independent living arrangements at 16.
He added: “Sadly, the proposition appears to have more to do with preparing the child for removal than with meeting the young person’s needs.”
He was speaking during the second reading of the Children and Young Persons Bill.
The proposal is being considered as part of a separate strategy for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, expected to be published later this month.
The strategy is also expected to propose that all asylum-seeking children are placed with 50-60 specialist local authorities. But Lord Judd argued this could result in them living far from their schools.
He referred to a measure in the Children and Young Persons Bill to ensure children in care lived near their schools and called on the government to clarify whether this applied to asylum-seeking children.
During the debate, Lord Listowel said former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham would table an amendment to the bill to place a statutory duty on social workers to continue to supervise young people under their care while they were in custody.
Delegates at last month’s Youth Justice Convention in Bournemouth accused councils of washing their hands of looked-after children who entered custody.
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