Study of children joining family in England under the Dublin III Regulation

November 2020: IFF Research on behalf of Dept of Education:

This study has attempted to fill the evidence gap about what happens to Dublin III and Calais Camp Clearance children and young people, their support needs, and the experiences of the local authorities they move into, from the perspectives of staff within local authorities and the children/ young people and their families. It has found a mixed picture in terms of outcomes for children and young people, with the majority of those covered by the available data having become a looked after child at some point.

Family living arrangements broke down in around one-third of cases. Upfront assessments are sometimes squeezed by time or information and local authorities would feel more confident making recommendations if they could do a more in-depth, holistic assessment, which they felt would also help to identify potential issues that might affect the sustainability of the arrangement in the longer-term. This is important as the survey identified that relationship issues were the biggest factor in the breakdown of an arrangement. Assessments therefore need to look beyond finances and housing to consider wider issues such as how it will impact on the dynamics of wider family (which would involve a more in-depth assessment). Local authorities also emphasised the need to make very clear to families that no extra substantive financial support or housing support will be on offer, to manage their expectations.

As some problems with the family arrangements typically emerge after a few months (related to mental health of the young person or their family member, or relationships with other household members) it may be helpful for local authorities to do some light-touch monitoring for the first few months or, if this is not possible, to provide signposting to wider support organisations/charities to enlarge the ‘safety net’ for the young person.

Evidence from the study shows that if the arrangement breaks down for whatever reason, it can take time for this to come to the attention of the local authority and this can sometimes lead to difficulties/ distress for the young person (such as temporary homelessness). This risk might be reduced if there was more ongoing contact between the local authority, the young person and their family after the initial arrangement is made.

Overall, local authorities approached the process in different ways and some voiced the need for more guidance both about the initial assessment and about how best to support arrangements where the child had remained with the family.

Once they become a looked after child , children and young people do appear to have access to a wider range of support, including more specialist support for mental health and English language needs, and this is important as they continue to navigate towards living independently. Transition points can continue to be difficult for the young person if their family arrangement broke down and they became a looked after child, as they may have very limited or no family support to act as a safety net. Little is known about outcomes for those young people who continue to live with their family as local authorities do not (and are not required to) collect this information