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An introduction to social work
An introduction to social work

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Viewing policies in context

Although it is easy to condemn practices such as the institutionalisation of children with disabilities today, it is important to remember that social work policies and practices are still influenced by the social, economic and political priorities of the times. Policy responses in 2012 to the needs of children separated from their families and travelling alone to the UK as refugees or asylum seekers is one example of this. There is an inherent tension between the laws and policies relating to immigration and our expectations of policy and practices created to protect children.

The Coram Children’s Legal Centre in 2012, exploring the experiences of child asylum seekers, noted:

At present, the lower-quality care received by those children is in part due to ‘the government’s limited funding for refugee children and negative attitudes to these children within some departments’ and also the widespread misconception that immigration issues ‘trump’ welfare concerns. Despite calls for them to be treated as children first and migrants second, the opposite approach is often seen in practice.

(Coram Children’s Legal Centre, 2012, p. 6)
This is a photograph of a young boy holding a suitcase, looking through an open gate.
Figure 4 ‘There are more than 4,200 unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Britain, with most being supported in local authority social services homes’ (Source: The Guardian, 2010).

Find out more

If you wish to find out more about child refugees you can listen to several children’s stories on the Refugee Council [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website, or go to the Welsh Refugee Council or Scottish Refugee Council websites to find out about support for child refugees in Wales and Scotland.