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Legal Services Agency launches its findings on treatment of separated children in Scotland
Legal Services Agency (LSA), a Law centre in Scotland, have launched the findings of their research into the treatment of separated children who arrive in Scotland aged 16 and 17.
The SLF had grant funded the LSA following concerns they had identified about the variation in the level of care being provided to this group. Local authorities in Scotland have a duty to assist separated children who arrive in Scotland under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. This includes children who have been trafficked into Scotland as well as children fleeing persecution in their country of origin.
The research found that there was an inconsistency in the level of care provided to separated children, which was often down to the provision under which support was provided. Whilst some separated children received a full package of care in residential units, others were placed in self contained accommodation and had minimal contact with social workers and childcare professionals. They found no discernible justification for this variation in practices by local authorities, as the care needs of the children involved were often very similar. The LSA consider that this inconsistency has serious consequences for the welfare and future of the children involved.
The findings were based on a number of information sources including: responses from freedom of Information requests from the 32 local authorities in Scotland, interviews with stakeholders and front-line organisations, case studies and a literature review.
The launch event was attended by over 40 people including advocates, legal practitioners, local authority practitioners and key policy leads. Guest speakers at the event included the Commissioner for Children and Young People within Scotland and Janys Scott QC
Kirsty Thomson, head of department at the LSA, stated that 'the report was commended by all and led to an interesting debate regarding how a child is defined within Scotland. We hope that significant pressure has now been placed on local authorities to look after and accommodate separated children who arrive in their area aged 16 and 17'.
A copy of the report is available here