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New research on lone child immigrants

Posted on 19 March 2003

The dramatic rise in the numbers of vulnerable child immigrants coming to the UK on their own, with the corresponding demands this makes on local authority social services, has prompted new research at the University of York.

The last recorded figures, in March 2000, put the numbers of unaccompanied minors in the care of local authorities at more than 5,000. The majority were in London and the South East.

Researchers at York will study the needs of these children, who are usually aged 16 or 17, but are sometimes younger, and the services provided for them in three local authorities. Despite the rise in the numbers of unaccompanied children, little research has been done into the way local authorities try to meet their responsibilities.

Now a team led by Jim Wade, senior research fellow in the University of York's Social Work Research and Development Unit, will look at a sample of 250 children in the three authorities.

Jim Wade said: "These children come into the country with very little by way of clothes or money, and sometimes little English. Obviously they are highly vulnerable and it's important to see how they are cared for. Some have fled persecution in their home countries.

"We'll be talking to a sample of these young people and their social workers to get a picture of their experiences, their involvement with social services, the progress they are making, and how any support they have received has influenced this.

"We want to see how these children are treated, how their needs are assessed, and services subsequently provided. We also want to assess whether the children themselves think the services are appropriate."

Notes to editors:

The research is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and endorsed by the Association of Directors of Social Services

The Social Work Research and Development Unit (SWRDU) undertakes research on social work and the services directly relevant to it. SWRDU's work includes research, evaluation, consultancy and service development.

It covers:

  • the analysis, description and evaluation of services
  • the production of measures which can be used in monitoring, inspection and development
  • collaborative research, consultancy and development work with agencies.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153