In newly published research in the July 2017 issue of Child Care in Practice, student Louden Richason uses interviews and insight gained through the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ DukeEngage: Dublin program to analyze child protection services for refugees in Ireland.
Richason, who traveled with Kenan to Dublin in 2016 for field research and internship opportunities with TUSLA Family and Child Agency for Separated Children Seeking Asylum, performed extensive interviews with social workers, children and reviewed existing work. “The experience sparked my passion for working with refugees and interest in humanitarian governance and refugee law and policy,” said Richason, a rising junior.
Richason’s paper adds to a limited amount of research focused on best practices for separated children in international settings and finds that Ireland’s example of child services maximizes continuity and support since responding to unhealthy and threatening living arrangements for separated children in the early 2000s.
Because children seeking refuge in foreign countries often end up marginalized and isolated, Richason noted that his paper has potential to spur additional research for other countries as refugee numbers continue to climb globally. The United Nations Refugee Agency counts 22.5 million refugees around the world, over half of whom are under 18 years old. In Ireland specifically, 585 separated children sought asylum between 2010 and 2015, with 518 under 18.
“Given that the number of separated children has been on the rise in Europe since 2010, it is especially important to find sustainable solutions for these children to ensure they can grow up in stable, nurturing environments,” Richason writes in his findings.
From June to August 2016, Richason collected information through observation, interviews and research as part of his stay in Dublin during Kenan’s DukeEngage program. In his paper, he identified 10 areas of analysis that impact an asylum-seeking child’s experience and the approach of Ireland’s Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum:
- Meeting immediate needs during intake
- Inclusive needs assessment to determine future course of action
- Family reunification and challenges in DNA testing
- Age assessments
- Beginning the asylum process
- Guiding children after placement in supported, foster or residential living situations
- Providing an outlet for concerns from the child
- Aftercare and community support
- Resource allocation
- Discretion among social workers
“It’s my hope that the paper can contribute to a more coordinated, equitable response to the refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere,” Richason said. “Separated children seeking asylum are an incredibly vulnerable group and deserve a safe, nurturing environment to grow and develop.”
Click here to for an abstract and access to Richason’s paper, “Social work for separated children seeking asylum in the Republic of Ireland: setting the standard for child-centred care and protection.”