Children in Care with Immigration Needs Programme

Children in Care with Immigration Needs Programme

Process and impact evaluation. Care experienced children. Immigration needs. Greater London Authority.

The Mayor’s All of Us (2018) strategy for social integration outlines the struggles faced by young Londoners with immigration needs:

"Thousands of young Londoners have grown up here but cannot fulfil their potential because of insecure immigration status. Despite London being their home, these young people find themselves blocked from living a normal life, contributing and progressing. They cannot work, access mainstream benefits, hold a driving licence or open a bank account, and are effectively barred from higher education. Many who have made London their home and live here permanently face financial barriers to becoming British citizens."

The GLA's Children in Care with Immigration Needs Programme was established in recognition of the fact that some of the 107,000 children and 26,000 young people who are undocumented in London will be in the care of London local authorities. In light of this, it was agreed that local authorities would welcome additional support to help them embed proactive practices to identify and support children to access citizenship and settlement, helping them to secure their rights into adulthood.

About the programme

The Greater London Authority (GLA) Children in Care with Immigration Needs Programme was launched in 2020. It aimed to formalise and embed partnership working between local authorities and organisations specialising in children’s immigration needs and to establish internal capacity, build specialism and create new systems that better meet the needs of migrant children and young people in care to access their citizenship and settlement rights. The programme consisted of three main strands of work:

  • Grant funding three local authorities (Barnet, Ealing and Islington) and children’s immigration specialist organisations to implement a partnership model to identify and resolve children’s immigration and citizenship needs.
  • Commissioning a pan-London resource for local authorities to access training and other necessary resources to build their capacity to identify and support children and young people in care with immigration and citizenship needs.
  • Regular meetings of the three pilot local authorities and their chosen children’s specialist immigration advice provider, the pan-London training provider, GLA and evaluator to share progress to date and key learning.

Methodology

The evaluation involved: 

  • Interviews with local authority staff from the three pilot areas.
  • Interviews with children’s specialist immigration legal providers.
  • Interviews with GLA project leads and wider stakeholders.
  • Interviews with the pan-London training provider and a sample of training recipients
  • Interviews with children and young people who had received support
  • A review of case studies of children and young people supported by the programme
  • A data study
  • Observation of reference group meetings

Findings

The evaluation found that a substantial proportion of children in care and care leavers are likely to have an immigration or citizenship need. The programme resulted in improvements in identifying and responding to these needs, largely by improving local authority staff confidence and skills. It also had a positive impact on children and young people’s wellbeing, and could be of financial benefit to local authorities, representing value for money in the short term as well as the potential for longer term-savings by identifying and resolving immigration and citizenships needs earlier.

The evaluation findings suggest that immigration and citizenship needs are likely to be best addressed by a programme that involves:

  1. A panel to audit cases, identify needs and coordinate next steps.
  2. Access to a specialist immigration provider with specific expertise in working with children and young people.
  3. Time and resources so that social workers can participate in training to improve their knowledge and understanding of immigration and citizenship needs.

Resources

Executive summary GLA CIC Immigration Programme evaluation

GLA CIC Immigration Programme evaluation report

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