Fostering an Asylum seeker
An asylum seeker is someone who is in the process of having their asylum claim examined by the home office. Until all appeals have been filed they have a legal status in the UK and should not be returned to their country of origin. Foster carers have a responsibility to care for all children who are placed with them and this can include unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Having an understanding of their situation is integral to providing appropriate care for these children and young people. When caring fro these children , foster carers need to keep in mind that they are particularly vulnerable and they are seeking asylum for a particular reason. They will have probably experienced some terrible things, such as the murder of a loved one, war,rape, persecution and torture. Experiences that most of us can barely imagine. As with any foster child, its important to make them feel safe and welcome in your home. Foster care can have a huge impact of the psychological state of these children and those living with foster carers generally lower their levels of distress, once they become settled. Not only are they cared for, but living with a foster family can help these children feel less isolated.
The support that foster carers provide can help with asylum seeking children’s social adjustment within a new country. It helps with education and promotes stability and positive relationships within the wider community. Foster carers need to be aware of indicators a child has been exposed to traumatic events, so looking out for:
- signs of distress
- crying, withdrawal
- irritability, nightmares
- flashbacks, intrusive thoughts
Foster carers need to be sensitive to the fact many of the children they are caring for will have been traumatised and the carers need to be sensitive to the experiences. Be careful about asking too many questions about what happened. Listening and not questioning is the best route to follow, providing sensitive responses to what they may disclose.
Being aware of the young persons culture is important and con be comforting for a young person. If you are not from the same culture/background tray and identify local ethnic groups which are the same as the young person you are caring for and find things within those networks which may support the placement. Food can be useful in making a young person more comfortable and secure in their environment. Finding an interpreter who speaks the same language and social groups with other children from the same cultural background could be helpful. Being creative a foster carer is useful and using lots of different avenues to try and find what works and what may help in planning a way forward.
The Refugee Council have a huge amount of information and resources available for foster carers caring for an unaccompanied asylum seeking child.