Kent struggling to cope with influx of young refugees
Kent has reached saturation point for dealing with young asylum seekers, say social services chiefs.
Kent County Council re-opened a reception centre in Cranbrook this week and has already trans- ferred 28 teenage boys there from its other reception centre in Ashford, the Milbank centre.
That has been dealing with close to twice as many children as it has space for.
Andrew Ireland, the authority’s director of social services, said the council had been under a huge strain because of the escalating refugee crisis.
While it had met is statutory obligation to find a place for every young asylum seeker, it had only done so with the help of other councils and placing some with foster families outside Kent.
Mr Ireland told a cross-party backbench meeting: “This has put a huge strain on the service, particularly on senior managers and on our placement finding staff, all of whom have done a sterling job.
“We have to date had 33 young people taken by other councils, which we are very grateful for.”
The councils include Bath and Hartlepool.
Mr Ireland went on: “We have reached, in terms of our ability to place youngsters in the county, reached saturation point.”
The opening of the centre in Cranbrook had eased the situation greatly, along with a lull in the numbers arriving in the UK, he added.
Another centre in Whitstable, involving the conversion of a former old people’s home, is due to open shortly.
Despite the pressures, the publicity given to the death of the three-year-old Syrian toddler has seen KCC inundated with offers to help.