Unaccompanied children

The responsibility for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, UASC, is shared between various authorities, municipalities and regions. The County Administrative Board’s role is to coordinate the municipalities’ reception of unaccompanied children.

Every year children arrive in Sweden to seek asylum. Most of them have arrived here with one or both parents. There are also many children arriving to Sweden without a parent or guardian; these unaccompanied minors require special support.

The life paths and backgrounds of the children vary, but common to all is that they are in a vulnerable situation.

The Government, authorities, municipalities and regions have a mutual responsibility for the reception of unaccompanied children in Sweden.

How the responsibility is shared

The responsibility, for the reception of unaccompanied children and adolescents, is shared between the municipalities, the County Administrative Board, The Swedish Migration Agency and several other authorities.

The Swedish Migration Agency has the overall responsibility for the reception of unaccompanied children. Among other things, this entails that the agency:

  • assigns a municipality to the child
  • investigates and makes decisions regarding the asylum application
  • pays compensations and special allowances to the child
  • pays compensations to the municipality.

Read more about the Swedish Migration Agency’s role on their web siteexternal link

The County Administrative Board has a coordinating role in regards to the reception of unaccompanied children and focus is on developing regional cooperation.

The County Administrative Board will:

  • Work to promote municipal preparedness and capacity to receive unaccompanied children.
  • Communicate with the municipalities on the availability of different forms of housing, education, health, spare time, and guardians.
  • Supervise the Chief Guardians’ activities.

The assignment will be implemented on the basis of the convention.

The municipalities are responsible for the actual reception of unaccompanied children, that is to provide:

  • housing (placement)
  • other types of support that the child might need
  • schooling.

According to the Social Services Act, the municipality has the long-term responsibility for the child’s housing, support and protection. In the absence of a parent, the chief guardian of the municipality where the child is residing appoints a guardian that will speak for the child during the asylum process.

If the child is granted a residence permit, the municipality is responsible for the continued care and settlement of the child in Sweden, and will also appoint a special guardian (särskilt förordnad vårdnadshavare, SFV).

The municipality has the same responsibility for unaccompanied children as it has for other children residing in the municipality.

The County Council is responsible for providing unaccompanied children with the health care and dental care that they need. Asylum seeking children have the right to receive the same level of care as children that are residents in the country. When a person seeks asylum in Sweden, a health check is offered to them, which aims to provide a medical assessment of the person’s general health as well as identifying any special health care needs or disease control measures.

Settlement assignment model for unaccompanied children

The reception of unaccompanied children shall be evenly distributed across the country. Therefore, the settlement assignment is based on a distribution model, where every municipality is assigned a number. The number is determined in December each year and applies one year at a time from January 1st.

The number is calculated from the municipality’s:

  • population
  • reception of newly arrived persons
  • reception of unaccompanied children and the number of days in the Swedish Migrations Agency’s reception system within the municipality´s borders during the previous calendar year.

If an unaccompanied child seeks asylum in Sweden and has a close relative residing in a Swedish municipality, the child will be assigned to that same municipality. If the child doesn’t have a close relative, the child will be assigned to the municipality in line to receive unaccompanied children.

Read more about settlement assignments and compensation on the Swedish Migration Agency’s web site:

Settlement assignmentsexternal link

Government compensation external link

Common questions and answers related to the settlement assignment modelexternal link

Unaccompanied children that disappears

During 2016-2017, the County Administrative Boards had an assignment, which, among other things, entailed carrying out a national investigation on unaccompanied children that disappears, as well as suggesting measures to prevent disappearances. The assignment was coordinated by the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. According to the national investigation On the Run and Missing (På flykt och försvunnen), 1 829 children had been registered as missing during the period 2013 to May 2016, based on data from the Swedish Migration Agency. Reports also show that unaccompanied children are over represented in police reports on child trafficking, and they are at a high risk to become victims of trafficking and exploitation.

The County Administrative Boards have the assignment in 2018 to produce uniform regional routines for activities related to working with missing children. The County Board of Stockholm will continue to coordinate the assignment, support the counties’ work and administer the material produced in 2016-2017.

In the best interest of the children

What is in the best interest of the children should be taken into account in the County Administrative Board’s work. The UN’s Rights of the Child’s four basic principles are important starting points for us:

  • Article 2: All children are equal. No child should be discriminated or treated unfairly on any basis.
  • Article 3: What is best for the child should always be considered first.
  • Article 6: All children have the right to a life and to develop. To be able to develop a child needs security and opportunities to play.
  • Article 12: All children have the right to express their opinion. Adults should listen, take the child’s opinion into account and provide feedback to the child.

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