Kent County Council (KCC) has secured £407,000 of Government funding for a new initiative to support asylum-seeking care leavers in Canterbury and Medway.
The project has seen the creation of a multidisciplinary team to help young people live independently, integrate into their local communities, support their physical and mental wellbeing and reduce antisocial behaviour.
The grant comes from the Controlling Migration Fund, a pot of money set aside by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to help local authorities build community cohesion and encourage integration for asylum-seeking children and care leavers.
When Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) arrive in Kent, they enter into KCC’s care. Like citizen children in care, on their 18th birthday, young people become care leavers and will continue to be entitled to support until the age of 25.
KCC is currently responsible for almost 1,000 former UASCs who are now care leavers. Many were aged over 16 when they arrived, giving children’s services limited time to prepare them for life in the community.
While most UASC care leavers have integrated well, many do not have English as a first language and can struggle to live independently.
The establishment of the new team has seen the creation of eight full-time roles, including a housing support officer, an emotional and wellbeing health practitioner and language tutor. They will initially focus on Canterbury and Medway, which currently house a third of Kent’s complement of UASC care leavers in shared accommodation.
Once established, KCC will consider rolling out the project to other areas of Kent.
Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “Most of our UASC care leavers have become engaged members of their local communities and yet there remain a small but significant number of young people who require extra support.
“Many of these young people have complex needs, such as mental health issues or housing problems which can’t be dealt with by a single agency. This funding will allow KCC to ensure it can provide the best possible support, encourage integration and improve outcomes.”
Notes for journalists
* The Children and Social Work Act 2017 extended the legal requirement for KCC to provide support for all young people leaving care up to the age of 25, if they wish; regardless of their education status, also that all local authorities make clear an offer to all care leavers regarding support and services.