The Home Office recognises the highly valuable work that local authorities undertake in supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) and that is why we significantly increased the funding paid as a contribution to their costs. It is hoped that this will enable more local authorities to feel able to offer placements for vulnerable UASC, and we will be working with them and partners to encourage this.
It is unlikely that adoption will be an appropriate option for unaccompanied children. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as well as other humanitarian charities, advise that no new adoption applications should be considered in the period after a disaster or fleeing from war. It is not uncommon for children in these circumstances to be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members who may be looking for them. Efforts to reunite children with relatives or extended family should therefore be given priority.
Foster parents are recruited by fostering services which include local authorities or independent fostering agencies. The decision to let someone foster a child, including UASC, is a very important one to get right. Anyone who wants to become a foster parent must undergo a full assessment and be approved by a fostering service before any child can be placed in their care. Regulations set out in detail the requirements of the approval process, including the information that must be collected in the assessment and the requirement for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. In 2013 Department for Education streamlined and strengthened the assessment and approval process for foster carers, introducing a two-stage process to ensure efficiency and transparency.
Existing foster parents may also be able to provide suitable homes for unaccompanied children and over the past two years the Department for Education has funded over 2000 training places for existing foster parents and support workers who wish to care for UASC, with places being prioritised for local authorities participating in the National Transfer Scheme.