Planning is ongoing in anticipation of the arrival of increasing numbers of vulnerable children and adults into Scotland from Ukraine. The precise number of likely arrivals is unclear and the levels of support will vary greatly and depend on individual circumstances, including:
- health and wellbeing on arrival
- who, if anyone, accompanies the children or any adult who may require additional support
- the immigration route through which they arrive
- where they will be accommodated during their stay
We have developed and published the People arriving from Ukraine - risk and need: public protection 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.
The vast majority of children will arrive with family members who are able to safeguard and meet their needs with minimal support and signposting. Likewise, Adults with additional support needs, including adults at risk of harm, may be travelling with carers (relatives or others) who are able to safeguard and meet their needs with minimal support.
Inevitably there will also be children and adults whose needs were previously met within their communities and may require formal support and safeguarding within Scotland, depending on their circumstances on arrival, including proximity of accommodation to their informal support networks. If you have any queries, please speak to your local safeguarding team.
With robust, professional assessment and good practice we can confidently support the children and adults who are arriving from Ukraine with any assessed health and social care needs they may require. This will include supporting and protecting children and adults at risk of harm in Scotland.
The NHS Education for Scotland learning platform provides public protection courses for both adult support and protection and child protection. Anyone with an email address can get a free Turas account (required for access).
A particularly vulnerable group are children arriving with adults who are not their parent or legal guardian. The specific assessment experience and support frameworks for supporting unaccompanied children already sits within local social work departments. It is essential that these children are deemed at immediate risk of harm and referred for the immediate attention of the local authority social work department.
When we refer to unaccompanied children, in this context, the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 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 extension to the Homes for Ukraine scheme allows some eligible children and young people to travel to the UK without their parent or legal guardian. The scheme extension allows children and young people who have a pre-existing, pre-war relationship with someone in the UK to apply to come and live with them. All pre-arrival safeguarding assessments must be complete prior to the unaccompanied minor travelling to Scotland. Further information on this scheme can be found in the Unaccompanied children and young people section of the Public Protection Guidance. This guidance also outlines the process for situations where a child or young person has travelled out with the eligible children (unaccompanied minor) scheme with a known adult, and for when a child or young person has been placed into the care of someone else while their parent returns to Ukraine.
We 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children travelling with adults without legal guardianship
Dynamics will vary child by child; the adults may be family friends already known to the child or well-meaning Ukrainians with no prior relationships who have agreed to help the child reach the UK.
Whilst in the majority of cases, these arrangements will be made with the best of intentions, there are very real risks around the arrangement breaking down if not supported.
The Home Office is actively working to ensure that visas for children who appear to be travelling without their parent or legal guardian are not issued. However, there are situations where travel has already occurred and as a result of this, we must be aware of the additional risk that these unaccompanied children face, and follow safeguarding procedures accordingly.
As with the response to unaccompanied children, those identified as having travelled and intending to stay with an adult who does not have parental rights and responsibilities, must undergo assessment as outlined in People arriving from Ukraine - risk and need: public protection guidance.
Should the assessment highlight concerns, or should the local authority be unsatisfied that the arrangements are suitable, these children may become looked after children. The local authority will therefore likely have a duty under the section 25 of ‘the 1995 act’ to provide accommodation and care for these children, where no alternative can be found.
Any unaccompanied children who arrive out with the unaccompanied minor scheme, and who are not with, or do not intend to stay, with an adult who is known to them, should be immediately referred to the relevant local authority social work department. The legal framework underpinning the provision of care, protection and accommodation in Scotland for Unaccompanied Children is outlined in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (“the 1995 Act”). Therefore, unaccompanied children from Ukraine 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, specifics of which are outlined under section 17 of the 1995 Act.
For any concerns, or for further advice, please contact the Ukraine Safeguarding Unit.
Adult support and protection
People from the Ukraine who are deemed to be at risk of harm will be treated the same as any other adult at risk of harm in Scotland, as per the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007. Statutory responsibility for undertaking ASP inquiries rests with the local authority where the adult who may be at risk of harm is. Local partnerships and Adult Protection Committees are already taking action to ensure that adults at risk of harm are protected. This should involve all of the key agencies, and include consideration of any necessary enhancements to local processes, and the communication of any changes to the workforce and wider community.
Services and staff should be alert to signs that individuals or groups are using the current crisis as an opportunity to harm people including, but not limited to, unlawfully and adversely affecting the adult’s property, rights or interests and sexual, physical and psychological harm.
Providers who deliver health and social care services have a duty to ensure adults at risk of harm, as defined by section 3 of the 2007 Act, are not placed at risk of harm by delays in care, support or protection planning. All those providing support, and particularly those named in section 5 of the 2007 Act, must ensure that staff, including volunteers, are adult protection aware in order that they can recognise harm, abuse or neglect, and respond appropriately.
Streamlined measures when engaging volunteers or those new to social care front line provision may be useful e.g. deployment of the SSSC Adult Support and Protection mobile application
Consideration should be given by Adult Protection Committees and Health and Social Care Partnerships to the provision of Basic or Intermediate levels of Adult Support and Protection training for those involved in resettlement activity. This should promote awareness raising of adults at risk and referral pathways.
When undertaking Child or Adult Support and Protection procedures, sensitivity around the use of family members as interpreters is recommended. For more information see: Adult Support and Protection revised Code of Practice
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