The ESRI said 175 children were referred to Tusla last year
The number of unaccompanied minors referred to the Child and Family Agency after arriving alone in Ireland as has risen by 80% in the last three years.
The ESRI said 175 children were referred to Tusla last year – up from 97 in 2014.
The group said unaccompanied minors – anyone under the age of 18 who arrives in Ireland without a parent or guardian – are assigned a social worker and receive the same care as other children in the care system.
However, it said that problems arise if they then turn 18 without having applied for protected status.
It said those without status are often transferred from a care placement to direct provision, “where provision of aftercare supports is challenging.”
It said most unaccompanied children arrive to seek protection from conflict, persecution or serious harm or to reunite with family members who are already here.
“While most of these children eventually apply for protection, few receive a decision before the age of 18,” it said.
“This is partly due to delays in making the application.
“In some cases social workers don’t submit applications for some time as they feel that the child is not ready for the process or fear that a negative decision would lead to the child going missing.”
It said that the children rarely apply for other forms of immigration permission.
The ESRI said the increase in unaccompanied minors is partly reflective of a global rise in people seeking protection.
It said Ireland has committed to accepting minors as part of a number of dedicated schemes – including 22 under the EU Relocation Scheme and 41 as part of the Calais Special Project.
The majority of children accepted under the schemes were granted refugee status on arrival or shortly after.
The most common countries of origin for the children arriving here are Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria and Ethiopia.