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Research into the care of unaccompanied minors: Children Caring on the Move project

Research into the care of unaccompanied minors: Children Caring on the Move project, Sarah Crafter

The OU hosts a cross university collaboration research project entitled “Children Caring on the Move (CCoM).  The research is interested in exploring the care that unaccompanied migrant minors provide for each other and the care they receive by relevant adult stakeholders. As part of our study we have been talking to unaccompanied minors, a range of adult stakeholders and undertaking a policy analysis. At the time of writing this article, the team have interviewed fifty-nine adult stakeholders from across sectors covering social work, foster care, immigration law, education, advocacy/youth support and immigration and border force. During the interview we invite professionals to talk about their own work or connections (no matter how brief) with unaccompanied minors: how they make sense of care relationships, some of the issues and challenges faced by professionals working with unaccompanied minors and how practices could be improved.

Our initial findings suggest that for adults who encounter unaccompanied minors, ‘care’ is a complex and ambiguous term. Many of our interviewees told us that they did consider their role to be one of ‘care’. However, they also spoke about how their work roles and the institutional pressures they face, could contradict with their own personal values, or be a hindrance to developing care relationships. Our interviewees representing enforcement agencies were, for example, aware of the fleeting amount of time they had to spend with young people and that their encounter could mean the difference between a young person going missing, or remaining in the care of social services.

To find out more about our ongoing project you can go to our Children Caring on the Move project website and read our interim report to find out more about the wider study.

If you have any connection with unaccompanied minors as part of your work (no matter how fleeting!) and would be willing to be interviewed for our study, please contact Sarah Crafter on sarah.crafter@open.ac.uk to find out what that involves. We are keen to speak to more people working in law enforcement and immigration and border force.

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