Edward Timpson MP – who was appointed Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families at Department for Education in July 2016 – has said that the government is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and providing help for those in genuine need of international protection.
In a Written Statement to Parliament, Mr Timpson and Robert Goodwill, Home Office Minister of State for Immigration, said that the UK “takes its responsibilities towards children extremely seriously”.
He said that the government already had a comprehensive approach to safeguarding children – including unaccompanied children – but that the number of unaccompanied and refugee children arriving in the UK had risen over the last few years, including through the transfer of hundreds of children from Calais, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in society.
Mr Timpson said that the government was committed to publishing a safeguarding strategy for children seeking asylum by 1 May 2017 – which would set out further detail on how these children should be safeguarded and their welfare promoted.
“This strategy will complement and build on existing safeguarding guidance and procedures – in recognition of the increased numbers and specific needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children already in the UK, unaccompanied children who we transfer to the UK from Europe, and unaccompanied children who we resettle directly from outside Europe.
“It will also set out the practical steps the government will take to implement this plan,” said the statement, which also covers plans to recruit more foster carers for children who are brought to the UK to be resettled.
“In recognition of the important role fostering plays in caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children, the strategy will set out plans to increase the number of foster carers.
“This will include evaluating the need for any additional training needs required by foster carers and support workers in looking after unaccompanied children.
“Supported lodgings, where young people can live in a shared and supportive environment, can also play an important role in meeting the needs of these children – as well as ensuring placement capacity, so we will set out our plans to encourage provision of this type.”
The statement adds that the government recognises that the children may have family or potential carers “with whom they are seeking to be reunited, under the Dublin Regulation”.
“The Department for Education and Home Office will work together to make sure the system for identifying these children and uniting them with family or potential carers is further strengthened, bearing in mind that the primary responsibility of all involved must be safeguarding and promoting the best interests of the child.”
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