Three: Caring for and about unaccompanied migrant youth


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (UNCRC) and domestic legislation, such as the Children Act 1989 in England and Wales, provide a framework for the provision of state services for unaccompanied migrant youth. This chapter critically examines the implementation of legal and policy frameworks in practice with a focus on age assessments, the provision of care placements, support and leaving care services. Fundamental tensions are explored between immigration and care priorities, particularly for social workers in local authorities experiencing financial cuts and influenced by wider political discourses and government policies. While the vulnerabilities of unaccompanied young migrants and their needs as individuals for tailored support services must be recognised, so must their agency in making decisions about their lives. The chapter concludes with recommendations for policy and practice that promotes young people’s voices, rights and welfare within a social justice framework.

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