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Placement Stability for Asylum Seeking Children and Young People

Our Aim:

One of Aidhour’s specialist teams has recently completed a research-informed thematic ‘deep dive’ audit with a focus upon Placement Stability in a local authority. The specific cohort of young people were 25 Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children and young people who had experienced more than 3 placement moves. The audit team was made up of auditors with backgrounds in strategic management of UASC, CLA and Exploitation services.

Some Key Findings:

Some of the additional risks to UASC during Covid-19, and challenges to stability/sufficiency were found to be:

  • Impact of unresolved trauma and loss: The impact of trauma is associated with young people’s placement instability. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ranges from 19% to 54% for UASC, whereas in the general population, the number ranges between 2% and 9%. Of the group of young people audited, those with the highest number of moves were male and from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Sudan. These countries have been or are war-torn, associated with which has been for some young people, directly experiencing torture and witnessing the murder of family and friends. Young people with the most placement moves in our sample, either had PTSD diagnoses, or were displaying strong indicators of trauma.

  • Impact of Covid-19: The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns has directly resulted in placement instability and breakdown. Coronavirus-associated themes include Foster Carer and Provider concerns that young people were not socially distancing, were staying out after their ‘curfew’, assessed to be with others, and in so being, potentially placing other young people, carers and their families at risk. Seeking companionship and connection at a time of lockdown-exacerbated disconnection was likely to have enhanced young people’s motivation for seeking the proximity of peers.

  • Impact of immigration status uncertainty Coinciding with the pandemic, the audit found an additional layer of anxiety for young people to be the delay in the Home Office progressing Substantive Interviews, further delayed by the pause during lockdown. 88% of the young people whose cases were audited were awaiting their Substantive Interviews and associated immigration decision – most had been waiting for longer than 2 years at the point of audit. The Key Worker of one of these young people aged 18, reflected; ‘He can’t get a job. He doesn’t know when he will get his (substantive) interview and I think one impact for him is loneliness’. Research, reflected in audit findings with some young people, found a reluctance for young people to articulate their future goals – possibly attributable to their lack of certainty about having a future in the UK. Three young people, all awaiting their Substantive Interview replied, when asked about their future discussion: ‘My future is always dependent upon God’; ‘My teacher told me to keep going and study; afterwards, I don’t know’. ‘Honestly, I can’t say anything about my future. Things aren’t going well”.

  • Desiring greater independence: Most of the cases reviewed illustrated the challenge faced by the Local Authority of balancing the needs of some young people to be nurtured in a family environment with their established level of independence, having had to look after, and make decisions for themselves in often hostile and uncertain circumstances in the absence of trusted adults.

  • Aspects of Care: For some young people standards of care fell short, including around the provision of food acceptable to the young person. Research would indicate that food for UAS children can be a means of finding sanctuary, negotiating belonging within a foster family and can evoke a sense of ‘being at ‘home,’ in a new land’. In some cases, despite wanting to live with foster carers young people voted with their feet and went missing or refused to return. In one case a Foster Carer gave one weeks’ notice, the primary reason given was that the Foster Carer disbelieving the young person to be a child, but an adult.

If you would be interested in a similar audit programme, please contact us at or 0208 7129329

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