Safeguarding Refugee Youth: Turning 18 in the Asylum System

7 December 2012
The Forum

Each year, hundreds of children arrive alone in the UK and seek asylum. These children are known as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, and they enter the care of children’s services until they turn 18. Most do not receive refugee status but discretionary leave to remain–which often ends at 17 1/2.  What happens when these young people turn 18 and no longer have a system of support?

The Forum’s new report, ‘Safeguarding Refugee Youth‘, works to provide a perspective on these young people’s lives. The series introduces the topic, provides case studies of former unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, examines current problems, and provides recommendations for policy and practice changes.

[h3]Safeguarding Refugee Youth:[/h3]


[h3]Turning 18 in the Asylum System[/h3]

Turning 18 is a major transition for all children. However, this transition is even more acute and difficult for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, who may be facing major changes in status for remaining in the UK as well as becoming legal adults. [Read more]


[h3]The Good and Bad of Leaving Care[/h3]

Refugee youth’s experiences of turning 18 vary widely, based largely on the amount of support that they received in the transition. Two young men who now work with The Forum provide contrasting perspectives on how leaving care can go extremely well or horribly wrong. [Read More]


[h3]Problems with Current Practice[/h3]

When asylum-seeking children turn 18, they face major obstacles and confusion in trying to navigate the system around them. This is largely due to problems within the system itself, including insufficient training for social workers and lack of expert legal advice. This post outlines these and other problems that make a huge difference in the lives of these young people. [Read More…]


[h3]Conclusions and Recommendations[/h3]

Though there are major problems in the social and legal practice of dealing with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children leaving care, there is hope. People are already working to improve the support systems available to these young people. This post outlines practical solutions that can be implemented to help young people transition through the process of becoming legal adults more smoothly. [Read More…]


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