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Dover Strait – Unaccompanied minors at the heart of a day of exchanges

On 12 May 2017, a delegation composed of several persons from Pas-de-Calais County Council’s Department for Childhood and Families and local representatives of France Terre d’Asile NGO visited Kent County Council in Ashford. Programme of the day: an exchange on questions linked to care of unaccompanied minors (asylum seeking children), a shared competency of the two public authorities on each side of the strait.

This meeting was the opportunity for Kent County Council and Pas-de-Calais County Council to compare their care services: age evaluation process, modes of fostering, applicable regulations… Despite similar approach in the two territories, many differences were highlighted regarding the number of children taken care (almost three times more numerous in Pas-de-Calais than in Kent), financing of the foster system or welcome procedures of children when they arrive on the territory (permanent or temporary shelter, delays for age evaluation…). Adaptation of services to the high number of children arriving in 2015 was at the centre of discussions, with the implementation of a National Transfer Scheme in England, enabling a better distribution of the children taken care thanks to a voluntary involvement of different counties.

In the afternoon, exchanges continued with the visit of Millbank centre, in Ashford, which hosts male children from 16 to 17 years old, for a maximal duration of 6 weeks. The visit enabled to understand the conditions care for these young men and their adaptation to new life habits, so that they can gain autonomy to live in independent flats in the local community. Learning the language, becoming familiar to shops and British products or learning how to use a bathroom: as many steps necessary for a successful integration!

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