Treat asylum seeking children as children first, says Education Committee

The Refugee Children’s Consortium (RCC) has welcomed Education Select Committee’s report recommending that Department for Education should be given overall responsibility for the welfare of all children, including human trafficking victims and those seeking protection in the UK.

The RCC is a group of NGOs working collaboratively to ensure that the rights and needs of refugee children are promoted, respected and met in accordance with the relevant domestic, regional and international standards.

The Education Committee said that the child protection system in the UK is not meeting the needs of older children and must be reviewed urgently.

It called for changes to ensure that all children are treated as children and that their interests are put first.

Launching the report Education Committee Chair, Graham Stuart MP, said: “Care for older children is not good enough. They are let down too often, frequently ignored or not listened to and can be pushed out of care too young and insufficiently prepared and supported. This has to change.

“We also have particular concerns over the plight of trafficked and asylum-seeking children. In all cases, these children must be treated as children first, and not just as either criminals or immigration cases. To ensure this happens, we want the Department for Education to take responsibility for the welfare of all children. We also want the Government to review the impact of immigration policy upon child protection.”

Citing the report, Mr. Stuart said “it would be outrageous if destitution were to be used as a weapon against children because of their immigration status."

The RCC said the Committee’s report “sends a powerful signal that all children matter equally. The current two-tier system prevents some of the most vulnerable children from receiving the critical protection and support they need. We want to see an end to the practice of treating children as immigrants first and children second.”

The RCC also welcomed the Committee’s call for a review into how immigration policy affects the protection of children and their rights.

“Despite the government’s assurance, the evidence clearly shows it has a long way to go to before children’s best interests are truly at the heart of all decisions made about them,” the RCC said.

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