Fight is on to ensure children’s green paper brings genuine inclusiveness

There is a battle to ensure that the children’s green
paper is truly inclusive, it was claimed last week.

The warning came from Andrew Cozens, the new president of the
Association of Directors of Social Services, speaking at a
parliamentary briefing on Community Care’s Right to
Refuge campaign.

“Our vision for children must get away from this notion that
there are subclasses like disabled children, young offenders and
asylum-seeking children. Do we really value every child, or is it
only some children?”

The briefing was hosted by Labour MP Neil Gerrard, chairperson
of the all-party group on refugees, who said he supported the aims
of Community Care’s campaign for a fair deal for
asylum seekers and refugees, and said there were many failings in
the current system.

The MP introduced four unaccompanied young asylum seekers from
east London.

Hakim, who is in foster care, said assessments for placing
asylum-seeking children with foster parents needed to be improved.
“Children are often moved from one family to another, and you have
to keep changing schools and start afresh making friends.” He added
he was also concerned some foster parents viewed fostering solely
as a source of income.

David said he was concerned about education. “I had to wait a
whole year for a school place. Also, I think asylum-seeking
children need more support with learning English and doing their

Ronald said the key issue for him was housing. “When you are put
in a shared house I think you should get a single room.”

John Reacroft, children’s services manager for
Barnardo’s Families in Temporary Accommodation project, said
even people who co-operated with the dispersal system were placed
in some of the worst accommodation around, often staying there for
a very long time.

“We are told another asylum bill is in the offing. Let’s
try and use it to ensure that asylum-seeking children are not
excluded from the kind of safeguards that every other child is
given,” Reacroft said.

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