Precarious care and (dis)connections: Adults working with separated child migrants in England and their understandings of care

Crafter, Sarah; Rosen, Rachel and Meetoo, Veena (2021). Precarious care and (dis)connections: Adults working with separated child migrants in England and their understandings of care. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation (In press).

Abstract

Adult stakeholders who work with separated child migrants face a substantial challenge to their capacity or remit to care amid increasingly hostile immigration environments. This paper explores a diverse range of adult stakeholders’ understandings of the care of separated child migrants, filling an important gap in understanding how care is conceptualised by those working in often complex and contradictory positions. Drawing on the care literature, this study focuses on fifteen qualitative semi-structured interviews with state and non-state adult stakeholders in England (e.g. social work, law, police, NGO workers). We argue that stringent immigration practices, policies, bureaucracy and structural challenges undoubtedly present personal tensions and professional constraints for those whose role is meant to foreground ‘care.’ Importantly, when taking into account a range of different perspectives, roles and responsibilities across professions and sectors, our respondents were constrained in varying ways or had varying room to manoeuvre within their institutional contexts. Our analysis suggests that amid a hostile immigration environment, care connections with and between separated child migrants are treated with mistrust and are unstable over space and time. We argue that how care is conceptualised and experienced is mutually constituted by hostile policies and procedures, adult stakeholders’ roles within or out-with those systems, and their personal values and perspectives. It is within this space where constraints, enablers and resistances play out. Care is subjectively experienced and care relationships are open to potential (dis)connection across space and time.

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