EU citizens watchdog takes steps to secure rights of looked after children and care leavers

Public bodies ,

The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) has launched a review to find out what measures local government across the UK is taking to ensure eligible EU and EEA EFTA looked after children and care leavers have their rights protected.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, all eligible citizens – including children – need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to secure their rights in the UK.

The IMA, which monitors the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens is assessing whether local governments are upholding their statutory duties to support applications to the scheme for these children and care leavers.

The review is being undertaken in stages across all local government in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Separate reports will be provided for each part of the UK while England will be separated into nine different regions with reports for each region.

The IMA is monitoring how local government identifies all looked after children and care leavers who need to apply to the EUSS, as well as the procedures they have in place for monitoring applications made.  The review will indicate whether the IMA is satisfied that children in care and care leavers will be able to access their rights. These include the right to work and study as well as access healthcare, housing and social security when needed.

The interim report for Wales has already been completed with 22 local authorities being monitored against three areas: identification, record keeping and retrospective checks of eligible children. Each local authority was categorised as either green, amber or red.

Pam Everett, IMA Director of Operational Delivery said:

“We want to be certain that local government has systems and procedures in place to ensure looked after children and care leavers who are EU and EEA EFTA citizens, and their eligible family members, can access all the rights to which they are entitled.

“Our work into this area is ongoing and we look forward to working collaboratively with local government so we can be confident these robust procedures are in place.”

As part of the review, the IMA is monitoring whether local government has plans in place to convert pre-settled status to settled status for children in care, and for this action to be documented as part of care leavers’ pathway plans.

Further action by the IMA, such as compliance investigations and litigation, may be considered if the IMA believes that rights under the Withdrawal and Separation Agreements of children in care or care leavers are at risk.