Unaccompanied asylum seeking children in foster care

The researcher specialising in this area of work:

Dr Ellie Ott:


Concepts of care for separated migrant children

Dr Ellie Ott is a co-investigator on a new £1 million ESRC-funded research project led by The Open University that will investigate the care of separated child migrants who arrive in the UK. The project team will work with young researchers within refugee communities to gather data on how migrants and those involved in their care make sense of, and value, care relationships and practices. 

Education of refugee and asylum-seeking children

Dr Ellie Ott holds a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellowship ‘Our Narratives: The Education of Unaccompanied Migrant Young People’. This fellowship explores the educational aspirations and experiences of unaccompanied migrant young people. The project partners with the Oxford Orientation Programme for newly arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people at Key 2 and the National Association of Virtual School Heads, a group that supports the education of all children in care, including unaccompanied migrant young people

Dr Ellie Ott is also leading research on the educational provision offered to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in England and the provision for refugee and asylum-seeking children in high-income countries that are associated with improved outcomes (e.g. education, health, and employment). This research is partly funded by the Oxford University Press (OUP) John Fell Fund. Please contact Ellie for further information.

Caitlin Prentice is completing her DPhil on how knowledge of and attitudes towards refugee and asylum-seeking pupils shape teachers’ practices in Oxfordshire. She is on an ESRC fellowship in the Spring of 2019 to explore multicultural education in New South Wales, Australia.

Care and education pathways of refugee and asylum-seeking children 

Dr Aoife O’Higgins, previously at the Rees Centre, has recently completed a study using secondary data analysis to examine how UASC get on in school and in care.

The first part of the study compares UASC outcomes to those of other looked after children and children in general population. The second part analyses key predictors for exam scores at age 16.

Key Messages from this study (pdf)

Full Report: O’Higgins, A. (July 2018). Analysis of care and education pathways of refugee and asylum-seeking children in care in England: implications for social work. International Journal of Social Welfare. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijsw.12324

Impact of placement type 

Dr Aoife O’Higgins, Dr Ellie Ott, and Dr Mike Shea completed a systematic review of research evidence looking at the impact of placement type on the mental health, physical health, and educational outcomes of unaccompanied migrant children.

Key Messages from this study (pdf)

O’Higgins, A., Ott, E. M., & Shea, M. W. (2018). What is the Impact of Placement Type on Educational and Health Outcomes of Unaccompanied Refugee Minors? A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-018-0256-7

Caring for teenage asylum seekers

Fostering a teenager asylum seeker was challenging – and fun Ellie Ott writing for Guardian Social Care blog, February 2017

Asylum seeking young people in foster care ESRC Seminar 4, Nov 2014, part of the ESRC Teenagers in Foster Care Seminar Series. Report of seminar discussions and recorded presentations from young people, practitioners and leading researchers.