Cultural Psychology, Social Psychology

Funding for Child Migrant Research

Dr Sarah Crafter from the Open University has been awarded just under £1 million from the ESRC to undertake a research project on the care of separated child migrants.

Dr Crafter, who has been at the Open University since 2017 is a cultural-development psychology interested in how the experience of migration might impact on children and their families. She is particularly interested in young people’s transitions to adulthood and how critical or contested ideas about ‘normative’ development may be foreground for children of migration.

The aim of the research project is to investigate how separated child migrants, and those involved in their care, make sense of, value, and take part in care relationships and caring practices within the immigration-welfare nexus in England. 65.6 million people are displace globally, many of whom are children, and the number who have been separated from primary carers at some point during their migration journeys has risen dramatically (Unicef, 2016). When separated migrant children arrive in the UK, they face conflicting treatment. They are protected as ‘children’ and entitled to the same rights to care as all other children. But, they are often treated as ‘suspect’ and excluded from welfare provision because of their status as ‘migrants.’ Little is known about how separated children’s care for each other as they navigate contradictory, complex, and changeable immigration and welfare systems. Nor do we know how separated children’s care for each other is understood and treated by relevant adult stakeholders, including social workers, foster carers, educators, youth workers, religious leaders, legal professionals, and policy makers. Placing separated children at its heart, this study asks: What are separated child migrants’ experiences of care and caring for others? How do various economic, social and political factors shape the care priorities of relevant stakeholders? What are the theoretical, policy, and practice implications of varying understandings and practices of care?

The research project is a collaboration with academic colleagues from UCL (Dr. Rachel Rosen and Dr. Elaine Chase), University of Liverpool (Professor Helen Stalford), University of Northampton (Dr. Evangelia Prokopiou), University of Oxford (Dr. Ellie Ott) and University of Bedfordshire (Professor Ravi Kohl). Kamena Dorling is a consultant providing expert advice in her capacity of Head of Policy and Law at Coram’s Children’s Legal Centre.

Dr. Sarah Crafter, lead of the project said:

We are really fortunate that this study is being supported by local organisations such as the MEENA Centre in Birmingham and Refugee Youth, as well as national organisations like Barnardo’s and the Refugee Council

The results will be used to (i) Facilitate opportunities for separated children to shape understandings of their care experiences and improve their treatment, as well as develop relationships with other young migrants and research, policy, and practitioner communities, (2) Build the research, communication, and public engagement capacities of young migrant researchers through the use of participatory research approaches, (3) Enhance the practices of adult stakeholders who care for and about separated child migrants by providing opportunities to identify and develop good practice in the care of separated migrant children, (4) Provide robust evidence about separated children’s care relationships and care practices, and the implications of how these are currently understood and treated, in order to shape policy debate and development, (5) Generate online, print and face-to-face activities about separated child migrants and their care to inform public debate.

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