Call for fosters carers to support young asylum-seekers

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A new, powerful campaign is launching to find foster carers who can offer safe and loving homes to young unaccompanied asylum-seekers.

This week, online adverts are urging people able to provide this vital support to get in touch with Leicestershire County Council.

The specialist role includes bespoke training, tailored support and an allowance, and could also involve other kinds of fostering.

Councillor Ivan Ould, cabinet member for children and families, said: “These are extremely vulnerable young people and the number arriving in Leicestershire is rising.

“Keeping children safe is our priority and this means this means that we need more specialist foster carers to offer them stability, security and a better future.”

The campaign comes as the council raises further concerns about a national ‘transfer’ scheme. Latest figures show this could require the council to support another 70 children, costing an extra £2 million a year.

The council - currently caring for 51 unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people, including seven under the national scheme – is proposing to pause its involvement in the national scheme until the government confirms it will meet the full costs.

Coun Ould said: “Morally, we remain committed to the national scheme. But our services are increasingly stretched and there’s over £2 million which remains unfunded.

“We want to continue playing our part in the national scheme, but there are serious funding and practical issues we’re calling on the government to resolve.”

To find out more about becoming a foster carer for unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people, call 0116 305 0505, email fosteringandadoption@leics.gov.uk, visit www.fosteringleicestershire.com or www.facebook.com/fosteringleicestershire .

A report about the national scheme will be discussed by the council’s cabinet next Tuesday (11 October). The meeting will be webcast, live, at www.leicestershire.gov.uk/webcast and a recording available to view from the next day.

**Foster carers looking after unaccompanied asylum seeking children must have a spare bedroom, own a car and be available to support on a full-time basis. Desirable skills include an understanding and appreciation of faiths and different cultures, patience and a willingness to support young people through the asylum process. Skills in other languages or the ability to pick up another language is desirable, but not essential.

The council supports unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who arrive unplanned in Leicestershire, often in lorries at motorway serviced stations, and those who ‘transfer’ through the national scheme. The national transfer scheme was launched by the government in July and aims to ensure that all councils support unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people, regardless of where they come into the country.

Supporting an extra 70 young people is estimated to cost over £4.6 million, over £2 million of which isn’t currently funded by the government.

When an asylum-seeking young person comes to Leicestershire, the council must ensure they have a safe home to live in, complete an age assessment, provide specialist psychological and therapeutic support, allocate social worker and ‘independent reviewing officer’ support, and provide educational support through a ‘virtual’ school.