People arriving from Ukraine - risk and need: public protection guidance
Guidance for all practitioners involved in safeguarding of children and adults who are arriving in Scotland from Ukraine to identify and respond to risk and need.
Unaccompanied children and young people
On this page:
- unaccompanied children/young people - Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme - extension for eligible children
- unaccompanied children/young people arriving outside of the extension for eligible children
- unaccompanied children/young people already in Scotland
- children placed in the care of others
A particularly vulnerable group are children arriving with adults who are not their parent or legal guardian. Dynamics will vary child by child; the adults may be family friends already known to the child, or well-meaning adults with no prior relationships who have agreed to help the child reach the UK. Scotland is committed to ensuring that all children travelling unaccompanied continue to be cared for by familiar adults, where it is safe to do so. It is essential that children travelling with adults who are not their parents or legal guardians are identified early so that early oversight and ongoing monitoring of arrangements occurs.
When we refer to ‘unaccompanied children’, the 1995 Act refers to a ‘Child’ as any person under age 18. ‘Unaccompanied’ refers to the absence of a parent or legal guardian who has the legal parental rights and responsibilities in respect of a child. An unaccompanied child may therefore be travelling with an adult who is known to them, such as a relative, extended family member or family friend. They may also be travelling alongside an adult who has provided support and care for them during displacement but has no pre-war connection; or they may arrive entirely alone.
It is expected that most children and young people who are unaccompanied on arrival into Scotland will have been granted permission to travel under the extension to the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme introduced in July 2022. This route includes formal parental/guardian consent and completion of assessment and checks prior to travel. Children and young people arriving through this route are considered to be living in a private fostering arrangement. Further information is provided below in the section called 'Unaccompanied children - Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme - extension for eligible children/young people'. It is recognised that there may be circumstances in which unaccompanied children/young people arrive outside of this route.
Unaccompanied children - Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme - extension for eligible children/young people
The extension to the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme permits entry to the UK for some children and young people who are not travelling with, or joining, their parent or legal guardian.
The spirit of this route is based upon pre-existing, pre-war, private family arrangements and requires all safeguarding checks and assessment to be undertaken prior to any visa or permission to travel being issued.
The extension to the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme for children and young people was launched in two phases. The first phase was to progress applications which had been made prior to the scheme announcement; these applicants had been identified as being made for unaccompanied children and were paused. The second and main phase is for new applications which are immediately send to local authorities for processing, without being paused by Home Office.
The immigration rules for this route are at the discretion of the UK Government and may be subject to change. Children and young people arriving under this scheme will be able to live in the UK for up to 3 years and access education, healthcare, benefits, employment (as appropriate under UK law) and other support
This guidance sets out how the Scottish Government, in partnership with COSLA, expects this scheme to operate in Scotland. It should be read in conjunction with the latest version of the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme guidance on the UK Government website and the chapters on disclosure checks and home checks in this guide.
The Scottish Super Sponsor Scheme is not available to new applications through the unaccompanied minor route because there is a requirement for a pre-existing relationship within the eligibility criteria.
The application process
The process for new applications requires the prospective host to first undergo safeguarding checks before an eligible child can begin their visa application. Prospective hosts of eligible children can start their applications via an online service. This enables local authorities to begin their safeguarding checks. The visa application process is open to new applications from eligible children; the host must have received their ‘child sponsorship approval number’ before they can complete the sponsor’s section of their visa application.
Scottish local authorities will have access to Foundry for processing new unaccompanied children applications. On boarding for this began in October 2022. In the interim, while the Foundry system is not fully in use, there is a workaround in place to assist with processing of new applications. Due to relatively small initial application numbers, guidance for this will be provided on a case-by-case basis. For further information, please email UkraineSafeguarding@gov.scot.
Application process using Foundry
The step-by-step application and approval process for new applicants is set out below:
1. The host should start the process by completing the online application form. As part of this application, the host will need to upload two different forms of parental or legal guardian consent:
a. Proof of parental or legal guardian consent for the child to leave Ukraine notarised by an authority approved by the Ukrainian Government:
i. If in Ukraine, then this must be certified by either the notary authorities or the Guardianship Service of the city or regional council in Ukraine.
ii. If in another country, then this must be certified by the notary authorities in that country or by the Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate.
b. A completed and signed UK Sponsorship Arrangement Consent Form. The host should not apply without both parental consent forms.
2. The completed application will create a new case in Foundry and the local authority will be able to access all of the information provided. (Training on this will be provided.)
3. The local authority initiates their sponsorship suitability assessment and checks - set out in in the section near the bottom of this page 'Approving sponsors-assessing needs' - which include:
a. Confirmation of the content in the parental consent forms, including a phone call/ conversation with the parent to verify information provided & agree ongoing contact (e.g. in the event of breakdown)
b. Disclosure Scotland checks
c. Accommodation suitability check;
d. Local authority led assessment:
- a suitability assessment of sponsorship arrangements;
- confirmation of expectations including in relation to the duration of sponsorship.
- written confirmation that the prospective host understands the expectations of them, as set out in the sponsor guidance.
4. The local authority will upload results of these checks to Foundry.
5. In parallel, UKVI will complete security checks on the prospective host, all other adults in the host’s household, and any adult guests. UKVI will also check the host’s immigration status to confirm they have no time limit to stay in the UK or, if they have immigration permission, have at least 3 years or as long as they will be sponsoring the child. UKVI will update Foundry with the results of these checks.
6. After all of the checks have been completed, the local authority will record on Foundry if the sponsorship is suitable.
7. If any checks or the sponsorship suitability assessments are not passed, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will contact the host directly to inform them that they do not meet the suitability requirements of the scheme and that applications linked to them cannot progress.
8. Where the sponsorship checks are successful, the local authority will provide the host and applicant with the Sponsor Certification code required for the applicant to apply for a visa through the gov.uk site.
9. The Home Office will complete the necessary visa application checks. If the visa is unsuccessful, the Home Office will notify the applicant and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will contact the host directly to inform them that the visa application has been unsuccessful. Where the visa application is successful, the Home Office will issue the child and any accompanying adults with a permit to travel.
10. The parent or legal guardian and host must ensure at this stage that safe arrangements have been made for the child’s travel and share these with the local authority for approval using the template at Annex C (Homes for Ukraine: Guidance for councils). If the local authority is content with the travel arrangements, the child can then travel to the UK.
11. Within 24 hours of a child’s arrival, local authority should carry out an initial visit, consistent with the Private Fostering framework, to confirm the suitability of the living arrangements and establish any immediate welfare needs.
This will be particularly relevant in:
a) scenarios where the parent or legal guardian has given responsibility for day-to-day care of the child to an accompanying adult relative who the local authority did not meet in person prior to the child arriving in the UK; and
b) scenarios where that accompanying adult relative with day-to-day caring responsibility is living with the child in self-contained accommodation, separate to the sponsor.
The local authority will give the child information about how to raise any concerns about their arrangement and has a duty to help them if they believe they are at risk.
Approving sponsors in Scotland - assessing needs
All children and young people displaced from Ukraine and travelling without their parent/legal guardian are vulnerable and therefore considered as children in need within Section 22 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. In all circumstances, the GIRFEC National Practice Model provides local authorities with the appropriate assessment framework to inform their decision making about the circumstances of an individual child or young person's needs and proposed available supports.
Scottish local authorities must complete checks for this new Ukraine Sponsorship scheme extension route in line with the current disclosure checks and home checks and the Private fostering in Scotland guidance. This includes:
- Disclosure Scotland PVG check for the private foster carer and Enhanced Disclosure check for persons over the age of 16 living in the same household as the foster carer
- a check of Local authority systems on prospective hosts and household members
- property visit
- GP Health Check
Within The Foster Children (Private Fostering) (Scotland) Regulations 1985, there is a requirement for local authorities to make enquiries to the child’s home local authority to ascertain whether they know of any reason why the arrangements should not go ahead.
In the current circumstances of armed conflict in Ukraine, and as the UK Government have developed the route in discussion with Ukraine officials, the notarised parental consent forms, UKVI checks and information provided in the sponsorship form is greater than might usually be available.
The notarised parental consent form must be certified by the local authorities in Ukraine or another country in which the child is living or by the Ukrainian Consulate. This document should therefore be considered as the ‘home’ local authority check.
Where local authorities consider they require further information about a child’s home circumstances, they may contact the Ukrainian authorities using the Scottish Government Central Authority. The Central Authority can connect directly on your behalf with the Central Authority of Ukraine to seek information from Child Welfare services in Ukraine. The email address for the Scottish Government Central Authority is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
References within the Foster Children (Private Fostering) (Scotland) Regulations 1985 to UKBA checks for foreign nationals should be read as the checks, which will be undertaken by UKVI.
Within this scheme extension, the host, having directly connected and applied with the parent or guardian is the responsible person in the UK and therefore should be assessed as a private foster carer. This includes circumstances where a known adult, including where the accompanying adult has responsibility for the child’s or young person’s day-to-day care, accompanies the child.
In instances where the child or young person is accompanied by a relative, it is important that local authorities discuss the situation fully with the host. The arrangement should be considered within the initial host assessment and reviewed in subsequent visits to understand how well it is working and any support required.
The private fostering framework only applies to children up to 16 (or 18 for children with a disability), and where the child is not being accommodated by a parent or legal guardian (or other person with parental responsibility) or a relative (as defined in the Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984). However, given the additional vulnerability of this group of children and young people, local authorities are asked to carry out these assessments for all children arriving in Scotland under this expanded scheme. These duties align with the GIRFEC framework and highlight the importance of creating and maintaining records, including a child’s plan.
The legislation governing the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the provision of the care of children in private fostering arrangements in Scotland is detailed in the Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 and The Foster Children (Private Fostering) (Scotland) Regulations 1985.
The UK guidance for this route, specifically the section Approving sponsors, also sets out the requirement for a suitability assessment.
Host suitability assessment
For all hosts, the information contained in the Sponsor suitability assessment section in the UK Guidance provides context to some of the complexities to be considered.
Local authorities are asked to make a decision about the suitability of the arrangement and where they agree to accept it, they are agreeing to provide alternative care for the child or young person in the event the arrangement ends.
Where the local authority assessment is that the arrangement is not suitable, they may decline to accept it. In both circumstances, the local authority is providing their decision about the suitability of the arrangement to the UK Government.
Registered social workers must undertake suitability assessments in relation to applications under this route. Scottish local authorities have skilled staff experienced in using established local procedures to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of children and young people in their area in line with their duties and responsibilities under Sections 22 and 23A of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
Where children are accompanied by a relative or known adult who plan to live with them within a host household, the suitability assessment must still be carried out for the host in line with the Private fostering in Scotland guidance. The assessment should take into consideration the parent’s wishes for the day-to-day care of the child in these circumstances. This will be indicated in section 2 of the UK Sponsorship arrangement consent form.
It is recommended that contingency plans are discussed by the parent/legal guardian and host when planning the application. Local authorities should discuss these during host suitability assessments and consider how robust these are, offering advice and guidance to hosts and parent/guardian where they deem this is necessary. Next of kin details are included in the UK Sponsorship Arrangement Consent Form.
Whilst the basis for this route is a private arrangement made by, and with the consent of, a parent or legal guardian, local authority oversight of the sponsorship arrangement is required in line with private fostering duties.
The UK guidance suggests a framework for safe travel. It is recommended that Scottish local authorities consider the arrangements being proposed for the child’s travel to Scotland as part of their host suitability assessment. In order to offer advice and guidance to hosts and parent or guardian so that they can arrange safe passage for their children and young people.
Whilst not static, the risks to children and young people who are travelling alone are heightened. The trafficking section of this document contains further information about the risks and effects for children and young people.
Local authorities, having provided advice and guidance regarding safe travel routes should also satisfy themselves about plans for the child’s arrival into Scotland. Children and young people must be immediately met and supported to their onward destination by their host, and where the local authority considers this appropriate, their representative.
Where local authority representatives do not attend to meet the child or young person, confirmation of their safe arrival should be made by the host to the local authority. This confirmation must take place within 24 hours.
Where confirmation occurs outside business hours or over a weekend, local authorities should use existing procedures, for example by ensuring the Host has access to contact details for the out of hours or duty social work service. Local authority representatives should visit the child or young person and their host in the home within 24 hours of being so notified.
Supporting post-arrival and ongoing checks
Children and young people travelling via this route are likely to have experienced trauma as a result of their separation from their parent or legal guardian and from the impact of living in an environment experiencing armed conflict. Their individual needs and histories have also influenced their development.
The capacity of hosts to meet their young guest’s needs will become clearer following their arrival and as the relationships and dynamics in the household develop. This means that each arrangement will require differing forms and levels of support, guidance and advice.
To mitigate some of the pressures local authority social work services currently experience, Scottish Government have provided funding to Aberlour Child Care Trust to deliver their Ukrainian Children and Host Family Service. The service can provide information, guidance and support for children, young people, accompanying adults, as well as hosts. For local authorities who wish to make a referral please contact email@example.com. For more information, please see Aberlour’s website.
Private Fostering regulations indicate that a minimum frequency of visits is undertaken by the local authority. For the purposes of this route, local authorities should visit the child or young person within their caregiving arrangement on a six-weekly basis within the first year; and three monthly in subsequent years.
The UK Guidance suggests that parents should notify sponsors in the event they wish the arrangement to cease, and relies upon the sponsor informing the local authority.
When carrying out the host suitability assessment, the importance of informing the local authority immediately of any significant change to the child or young person’s arrangements - whether planned or unplanned - should be emphasised. Social workers will also wish to assess the strength of contingency arrangements proposed by parent/guardian in the event of a child or young person’s arrangement ending.
Ending sponsorship arrangements provides further information on how to respond in circumstances, including when the child or young person is:
- moving outside of the UK
- moving to a new hosting arrangement
- joined by their parent/legal guardian
- having reached 18, wishes to live independently
In all circumstances, local authorities should always follow their local processes to ensure that children’s needs are met.
The parent or legal guardian has made assurances that they are acting in the best interest of their child and have fully discussed the arrangement with the host, confirming this within the signed parental consent form.
The local authority should work through the confirmation form with hosts and ask them to sign to demonstrate their understanding of their role and responsibility for the child. The confirmation form for hosts makes clear that the local authority should be informed of any changes of circumstance.
Where local authorities consider that it is in the child or young person’s best interest to take measures to protect their welfare and provide accommodation for the child, as set out in the accompanied children section, this is likely to be under section 25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
Where any child or young person arriving in Scotland under this (or any other) route becomes looked after, the local authority should make direct notification to the Ukraine Consul General in Edinburgh. Notification should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org and copied to the Scottish Government at UkraineChildrenLookedAfter@gov.scot.
Scottish Ministers have provided assurances to Ukraine that international conventions in respect of their displaced children and young people will be upheld. This means that in the event children and young people require alternative care, notification will be made to the Consulate and adoption will not be progressed. This was communicated to all local authorities in a letter from the Minister for Children and Young People, Ms Haughey, of 30 March 2022.
Further information that may be helpful to local authorities, and partners, discharging safeguarding duties relating to children who have moved across borders is available in the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland, 2021; specifically, paragraphs 4.316 and 4.317 within the section on ‘Children and young people who are missing’.
Education, health and housing are devolved matters and therefore references within the UK guidance to these matters are addressed specifically within Scottish Government guidance for local authorities. This guidance also sets out the position in Scotland for welfare benefits, including those delivered by Social Security Scotland.
Details of funding are given within the UK guidance and apply equally to Scottish local authorities. The mechanisms by which the funding will be delivered for Scotland will be confirmed in due course.
Unaccompanied children applications made before 15 July 2022
The first phase of the scheme included applications on behalf of children and young people who had applied to come to the UK prior to the extension being launched. These individuals were identified as being unaccompanied by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) and their applications were put ‘on hold’ until the policy was developed.
UKVI contacted the adults who applied on behalf of these children and young people (either their legal guardian or their prospective host) to ascertain whether they still wished to travel through this scheme, whether they have made alternative arrangements in the interim, or any other circumstantial change has impacted their application. Following confirmation, UKVI updated their records to either progress the application or remove it from their systems. If anyone has any queries about an application prior to 15 July, please contact UkraineSafeguarding@gov.scot.
The Foundry data system referred to in the UK guidance will be used in Scotland solely for new applications. For any applications submitted prior to 15 July, data transfers to local authorities took place using Objective Connect in line with current Homes for Ukraine scheme data processes in Scotland.
An email was sent to a named individual within the local authority to notify them of this data upload. These data transfers included the parental consent forms and local authority forms detailed in the UK guidance. This information provided the referral to local authorities to undertake the assessment of the proposed arrangement.
This route is interactive by design and requires local authorities to notify UKVI when the checks and host suitability assessment have been concluded. UKVI will then decide whether a child or young person receives permission to travel.
Local authorities should send confirmation that they have conducted the necessary checks and host suitability assessment, including the outcome of this to HFUUpdates-Minors@homeoffice.gov.uk. The Scottish Government's Ukraine Safeguarding mailbox – Ukrainesafeguarding@gov.scot – should be copied into this email.
In the subject line of the email, local authorities should include:
HFU Updates – Minors GWFxxxxxxxxx/UANxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx – Scottish Government - LA Check Results Date xx/xx/xxxx
Definitions and Scottish equivalents
Throughout the UK guidance, reference is made to legislation and processes, some of these differ within the Scottish context.
‘Child’ or ‘children’ refers to any individual who is under 18 who has already applied for the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme who is not travelling with or joining a parent or legal guardian. This includes both children who will be accompanied by an adult relative and those who are intending to be hosted by an adult relative as well as those for whom where neither applies. Where relevant the guidance distinguishes between these groups.
‘DBS checks’ - throughout the UK guidance, reference is made to DBS checks – the Scottish equivalent for these is Disclosure Scotland checks (including PVG/enhanced disclosure etc.). The relevant check for this route must align to the private fostering regulations, which is a PVG scheme membership. Where hosts are outside of private fostering regulations, guidance relevant to Ukraine Sponsorship scheme checks in Scotland should be used.
‘Host/s’ refers to an individual, group or organisation who has been approved to accommodate an individual or household from Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship scheme or has agreed to participate in the Scottish Super Sponsor scheme. Under the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme a person individually matched may be referred to as a ‘sponsor/s’.
‘Parental responsibility’ is defined under Part 1, Section 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
Any reference to ‘Private Fostering Regulations’ or ‘Frameworks’ should be taken to mean the Foster Children (Private Fostering) (Scotland) Regulations 1985
References to ‘Section 20 of the Children Act (1989)’ should be taken to mean the meaning of Section 25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
‘Relative’ – is defined in section 21 of the Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 - in relation to a child, means a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt whether of the full blood or half blood or by affinity.
Unaccompanied children arriving outside of the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme extension
Since the beginning of the conflict, work has been underway with operational partners across Scotland, including Border Force, regarding the identification of unaccompanied children arriving from Ukraine.
It is vital that robust processes continue to ensure vulnerable children are identified and, where necessary, suitable accommodation and welfare provision is provided.
It is therefore essential that unaccompanied children are identified as being amongst the most vulnerable displaced people. The specific assessment experience and frameworks for supporting these children lies with the local social work department. It is essential that these children are deemed at immediate risk of harm and established processes to ensure they are safe and cared for are actioned.
It is possible that a child travelling alone either has an adult coming to collect them or plans to wait for an adult to meet them in Scotland. In such cases, the support remains with the local social work office, who will ensure the child is cared for whilst they await the arrival of their parent or carer. Local authorities should undertake an assessment of the care-giving arrangement before allowing the child to travel with the adult. The unaccompanied child screening form (in supporting documents) helps to ensure all relevant details are captured for the purpose of assessment in these circumstances and has been compiled to support practitioners with this initial assessment.
Unaccompanied children should never be transported via normal hub arrangements or be offered welcome accommodation. Movement of the child or young person beyond their arrival point should only occur with the oversight and full support of the local social work office. If you identify an unaccompanied child or young person, please email the Ukraine Safeguarding Unit (Ukrainesafeguarding@gov.scot).
Unaccompanied children from Ukraine who do not arrive through the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme extension will become looked after children, subject to section 25 of the 1995 Act. Local authorities will therefore have responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of these children, as further specified in section 17 of the 1995 Act.
In these circumstances, local authority assessments should consider the relationship between any accompanying adult and the child and whether supporting the care arrangement is appropriate and safe to continue. Without background checks, this will require the skills and professional judgement of experienced children and families social workers. Whilst likely a minority of cases, there is the very real risk that the person offering this care is not well intended and the child is at risk of significant harm.
It is essential that the child is given an opportunity to speak privately with the assessing social worker, who will explore with them their understanding, feelings and any safety concerns regarding the proposed care arrangement. Assessments should also consider the impact of separation, and the wishes of the child and adult caregiver regarding continuation of the care arrangement. They will require continued review and ongoing support.
Where it has been assessed as appropriate to continue with the arrangement, the section below provides further detail on how to proceed, including securing formal parental consent should local authorities consider that this route is not appropriate, they should take measures to provide accommodation for the child.
The unaccompanied child screening form (under supporting documents) helps to ensure all relevant details are captured for the purpose of assessing an adult travelling separately to a child and intending to provide care has been compiled to support practitioners with this initial assessment.
When we refer to unaccompanied children, in this context, the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 refers to a “Child”, as any person under age 18 and “Accommodation” meaning accommodation provided for more than 24 hours.
If the child has an accepted proof of age, (i.e. a passport, Ukrainian identity card or UK Government issued visa) then an age assessment will not be required. However, in certain circumstances age assessment may need to be conducted (i.e. the child has arrived via an irregular immigration route). In such instances the Scottish Government’s Age Assessment: Practical Guidance must be followed.
Urgent work is underway with the Home Office regarding the immigration status of Ukrainian children arriving in the UK outwith the formal schemes announced by the UK Government.
Unaccompanied children already in Scotland
Some children and young people who are unaccompanied may already be in Scotland. The UK Government is developing guidance for situations in which local authorities find that they have a child or young person living in their area without their parent or legal guardian. If you have identified a child in these circumstances, please contact UkraineSafeguarding@gov.scot for further information.
Children placed in the care of others
Parents/legal guardians are strongly advised to avoid leaving the UK without their child/children. The requirements of hosts under this scheme are different and more significant than the role of sponsors of adults of families on the wider Ukraine Sponsorship scheme [information on the role of sponsors can be found at Guidance for Sponsors - Children and Minors applying without parent or legal guardians.
Where a child is left in the care of a host, the parent/legal guardian continues to hold parental rights in relation to that child, including responsibility for keeping them safe and ensuring that their needs are met. This means that they are responsible for ensuring that the host is a suitable person to care for their child, and that the appropriate contact details for any emergency are provided. The expectation is that such an arrangement would only be for very short periods. This is because of Scottish legislation and sponsors of adults and children who arrived with their parent(s) or legal guardian will not have expected to take on additional responsibilities for a child or have undergone the same level of safeguarding checks as those who offered accommodation to an unaccompanied child.
Sponsors of adults and children who arrived with their parent(s) or legal guardian will not have expected to take on additional responsibilities for a child and they will not have undergone the same level of safeguarding checks. As well as taking on a greater level of responsibility, hosts of children under 18 who are not with their parent(s) or legal guardian are required to undergo additional safeguarding checks. This includes the suitability assessment to ensure that they can meet the needs of the child they are hosting. Exploring the hosts’ views about this different and additional role is an important step in the suitability assessment.
When children are living with a private host
In very exceptional circumstances where parents/legal guardians wish to leave their child/ren in the UK with their sponsor for 28 days or more, they must take several actions. This is because the law in Scotland deems this a ‘private fostering situation’, which requires that they should:
- agree the duration of the new arrangement with the sponsor who must consent to taking on additional responsibility to care directly for an under 18 who is not with their parent(s) or legal guardian
- notify and provide written parental consent to the local authority. Contact Ukraine Safeguarding Unit for further advice UkraineSafeguarding@gov.scot
- Wait for the local authority to successfully complete any additional safeguarding checks required.
The host should similarly notify the local authority of the situation and their agreement to undertake the care of the child while the parent is away. While away from the UK the parent(s) or legal guardian should stay in frequent contact with the host and their child and update on any changes to their plans (e.g. should the duration of their planned visit, whether within the UK or outside of the UK change).
If the arrangement is intended to last for 28 days or more, as in line with Private Fostering Guidance. Or if it is unclear how long the arrangement will last (for example because the parent has not booked return travel to the UK) then this is deemed a Private Fostering arrangement and the private fostering guidance applies - all of the checks that are in place for sponsors on the eligible children’s’ scheme will be required.
This means that the local authority will need to carry out a sponsor suitability assessment to ensure that the arrangements meet the needs of the child. The local authority will also be expected to visit the child at regular intervals while their parent or legal guardian is away/abroad to ensure that the child’s ongoing needs are being met and that the sponsorship is working well.
Where a local authority, identifies a child whose parent(s) or legal guardian has left the UK, leaving them in the care of a host, they will work with the host to contact the parent and seek parental consent for the arrangement. Whether a sponsor’s suitability assessment is required will depend on the intended duration of the arrangement (taking into account whether or not the parent(s) or legal guardian has booked return travel).
Parents and legal guardians should be aware that leaving the UK without first carrying out the above steps, without agreeing the arrangement (including its duration) and notifying the local authority is not advised. It is likely to create significant challenges for sponsors who may not have been prepared to take on the additional responsibility of caring for a child under the age of 18 for an extended period.
In the unfortunate event that a sponsorship arrangement should breakdown between an under 18 who is not with their parent(s) or legal guardian and if the host does not meet suitability, the local authority will:
- consult the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian to ascertain their wishes about arrangements for their child.
- make interim arrangements for the child to be cared for if the situation is unsafe and therefore the sponsorship arrangement is being discontinued at the direction of the local authority for safeguarding reasons. This is likely to involve confirming with the parent that they wish the local authority to make such an arrangement under section 25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
- or take further necessary action such as taking the child into care, while arrangements are being decided for the onward care of that child.
- Where an arrangement is ending for safeguarding reasons, the local authority will also inform the Ukrainian Embassy. Read more: in the 'ending arrangements' section above.
Additional safeguarding checks are not required on the host where a parent or legal guardian intends to be away from their child for less than 28 days. It is good practice to have the parent/legal guardian complete the parental consent form and provide details of next of kin.
When children are living in temporary accommodation
Due to the large number of Ukrainian displaced people currently staying in temporary accommodation, an increasing number of parents/legal guardians are seeking to leave their child/ren in the care of another displaced person within the welcome accommodation. As with children who are being left with private hosts, local authorities are required to ensure that the steps relating to children being living with private hosts are carried out in full.
Often, the connections formed in welcome accommodation are new and therefore there may be no pre-war, pre-existing relationship. Additionally, it may not be possible to complete some of the required checks for the scheme. It is therefore important that local safeguarding procedures and processes are followed in these circumstances and that referrals to the local children’s safeguarding team are made. Social workers will use their professional knowledge and skill to discuss the proposed arrangement with parents and ensure any identified risks are mitigated.
More information is available on parent and legal guardian consent. The terms eligible children and unaccompanied children are often used interchangeably, but for these purposes, eligible child relates to the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme extension.
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