This article examines forms of care which can be used by social workers to best respond to unaccompanied minors (UAMs) given their complex needs and particular vulnerability combined with their agency and resilience. The vulnerabilities and agency/resilience of UAMs are examined in the context of multiple borders (cultural, political and physical) being negotiated by these young people. While it focuses on Ireland as an example of a country where care provision for UAMs has improved considerably in recent years, it draws on both the Irish and international literatures. This article critically analyses the shift from hostel to foster care provision for UAMs in Ireland and explores benefits and difficulties associated with using foster care, while also discussing the use of alternative forms of care, such as residential care. We argue that social workers must always give consideration to a range of care options, to the needs of the individual child and to both their vulnerability and their resilience/agency. This is especially true given the diversity within the population of UAMs. Given the increasing numbers of refugees entering Europe and the mix of provision for UAMs across the continent, the Irish situation may represent a useful site for examination of their care.
Source: European Journal of Social Work