Social services’ support – children within families

Social services’ support – children within families

Local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of children, regardless of the child’s or parents’ immigration status. This chapter sets out how a local authority will determine whether it has a duty to provide accommodation and financial support to a family with children under 18 who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) and are in need of assistance, and, when that duty is engaged, how to establish what support needs to be provided.

Later chapters look at specific considerations for pregnant women without dependent children, care leavers, and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASCs) who are looked after by the local authority. 

Good practice points

  • Local authorities should ensure that their decisions are consistent with the rights of the child and should seek to mitigate adverse impacts of growing up with insecure immigration status on the child’s mental health, wellbeing and integration.
  • The requirement to undertake a GIRFEC assessment is based on an appearance of need and is not dependent on the parent’s immigration status or whether the parent has a pending immigration application. The absence of a pending immigration application should not prevent an assessment being carried out or interim support being provided when this is necessary. The parent’s immigration status and whether any applications have been made will be relevant factors when determining whether the Schedule 3 exclusion applies.
  • Section 22 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 requires local authorities to assist the family as a whole; offering to accommodate the child alone or taking the child into care will rarely be an appropriate response in the absence of any safeguarding concerns in addition to the risk to the child arising from the parent’s lack of housing and income.
  • When the local authority identifies that accommodation and financial support is required to meet a child’s needs, the authority cannot then refuse to provide these.
  • When determining what support to provide to an NRPF family, the local authority should be mindful that the purpose of doing so is to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare, by alleviating any risks that may arise due to the parent’s exclusion from mainstream social security benefits, and taking proper account of the suitability and sustainability of any informal support being received, for example from friends, family or a third sector organisation.