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7.2 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Minors

See: On the Safe Side: Principles for Safe Accommodation for Child Victims of Trafficking, ECPAT, 2011.

Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children: Statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children (2014).

National Transfer Protocol for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children 2016 - 2017 (draft).


In April 2017 this chapter was revised and updated to reflect local organisational arrangements. A reference and link was also added to the draft National Transfer Protocol for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children 2016-17.


  1. Referrals
  2. Age Assessments
  3. Response to Referrals
  4. Private Fostering
  5. Care Leavers

1. Referrals

All referrals in relation to unaccompanied minors arriving in Hillingdon who have or are likely to claim asylum must be referred to the Triage and MASH teams within Children's Social Care. 

A minor is defined as a young person who is or (if there is no documentary evidence) is assessed to be under the age of 18. 

A minor is regarded as unaccompanied if he or she has no adult relative or guardian to turn to in this country.

This will include all referrals to the Children and Families Service from Heathrow Airport, which come via the Emergency Duty Team or the On-Call Team which responds to referrals from Heathrow and make appropriate interim arrangement for the child's accommodation and living arrangements.

Referrals may also be received from Immigration Removal Centres (Harmondsworth and Colnbrook) and from Police at Heathrow Polar Park Police Station.

2. Age Assessments

Where necessary, an Age Assessment will be used to establish the young person's age.

If an Age Assessment is required, it will be carried out by two social workers together with an independent person and an interpreter, where required.

For further guidance on age assessment process please go to

If the young person is assessed to be under the age of 18, see Section 3, Response to Referrals.

If the young person is assessed to be 18 or older, he or she will be referred to the Home Office for a decision in relation to his or her future status.

See also Joint Working Protocol between the Home Office and ADSS in relation to Age Assessments (December 2005).

The ADCS Asylum Task Force has worked with the Home Office to provide a set of jointly agreed “good practice documents”. These documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to local authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on local authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.

3. Response to Referrals

Where a referral is accepted, the child or young person will become Looked After and a Care Plan will be drawn up. 

In relation to the arrangements for their placements, this will depend on their age or assessed age.

(In relation to many referrals the child may already be in an emergency placement arranged by the Emergency Duty Team/On-Call Team at Heathrow).

For children under 16, a placement will be identified via a referral to the Placement Team as for any other Looked After Child - see Placements in Residential Care Procedure and Placements in Foster Care Procedure.

In relation to young people aged 16 to 18, the usual arrangement will be for a placement in semi-independent accommodation with support and this will be made directly with the appropriate provider. Where there are specific reasons why the young person requires foster care or residential care, a referral to the Placement Team will be made as for a child under 16.

As well as confirming the arrangements for the placement, the first priority of the worker from the Referral and Assessment Team will be to ensure that the young person is following the correct procedure for his or her asylum claim - e.g. that arrangements are made to attend interviews as required and within the correct timescales. 

All unaccompanied minors seeking asylum who have made an an asylum claim on arrival and their Welfare Interview has been completed by UK Border Force will then be referred to the Home Office and Department for Education National Transfer Protocol for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.

(See National Transfer Protocol for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children 2016 - 2017 (draft)).

4. Private Fostering

Some young people may claim to have relatives who will care for them. These claims should be fully explored. In these circumstances, as it is likely that any such arrangement will fall within the definition of Private Fostering, a referral will be made to the Referral and Assessment Team. This will be made in writing following a discussion between the two team managers involved. The requirements of the Private Fostering Procedure will then be followed.

5. Care Leavers

The support for care leavers is as set out in the Leaving Care Procedure but will be provided by the Young Persons Teams.

The only exception is that, at the point where support for a care leaver ends and the care leaver is also a parent who has exhausted all rights of appeal, an exit strategy will be drawn up for the young person - for example consideration will be given to making a referral to the Referral and Assessment Team for an assessment of whether the care leaver's child is a Child in Need. This may be a case which comes within the No Recourse to Public Funds chapter.