Unaccompanied children who are not immediately refused entry or returned after having entered Germany irregularly, are taken into provisional care of the youth welfare office (Jugendamt) in the municipality in which they have had the first contact with authorities or in which they have been apprehended. In this stage of “preliminary taking into care”, the local youth welfare office examines which youth welfare office is ultimately responsible and whether the minor can be subjected to the federal distribution procedure (for details see Section Special reception needs of vulnerable groups).
After the responsible youth welfare office has been determined, the regular taking into care procedure is initiated, which includes the appointment of a legal guardian and the so-called “clearing procedure“, which includes an examination of whether there are alternatives to an asylum application, such as family reunification in a third country or application for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds.
The role of the guardian in the asylum procedure has been described as “unclear”, and the law does not contain any provisions which might help improve this situation. Often, guardians appointed by the youth welfare offices are not in a position to sufficiently support the children in the asylum procedure, because of overburdening, as some guardians in youth welfare offices are responsible for up to 50 minors at the same time. In the majority of cases, the youth welfare office acts as guardian for the minor. Another challenge is the lack of specific knowledge of asylum laws, especially among voluntary guardians but at times also in youth welfare offices. It has been noted that the current legal situation is not in line with relevant provisions of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive and other European legal acts which state that children should be represented and assisted by representatives with the necessary expertise.
 Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Unterbringung, Versorgung und Betreuung ausländischer Kinder und Jugendlicher, Official Gazette I of 28 October 2015, 1802. The most important regulations of the law are summarised in Federal Association for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors, Vorläufige Inobhutnahme – Was ändert sich zum 1.11.2015?, October 2015.
 See Julian Tangermann and Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik, ‘Unaccompanied Minors in Germany – Challenges and Measures after the Clarification of Residence Status’, Study by the German National Contact Point for the European Migration Network (EMN). Working Paper 80 of the Research Centre of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, March 2018, p. 27, available in English at https://bit.ly/3KcEEe6
 See for example: Handreichung zum Umgang mit unbegleiteten minderjährigen Flüchtlingen in Nordrhein-Westfalen 2017 (recommendations for the treatment of unaccompanied minor refugees in North Rhine-Westphalia), available at: https://bit.ly/2JCSRpD.
 Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Unterbringung, Versorgung und Betreuung ausländischer Kinder und Jugendlicher, Official Gazette I of 28 October 2015, 1802. The most important regulations of the law are summarised in ‘Federal Association for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors’, Vorläufige Inobhutnahme – Was ändert sich zum 1.11.2015?, October 2015, 30.
 Uta Rieger und Nerea González Méndez de Vigo, Kindgerechte Ausgestaltung des Asylverfahrens – Eine Bestandsaufnahme, in: Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk e.V. (ed.): Sammelband Kindgerechte Justiz, available at: https://bit.ly/2DmvbTE, 62-64, BumF, ‘Online-Umfrage 2020 zur Situation junger Geflüchteter: Auswertung und Ergebnisse’, April 2021, p. 50, available in German at https://bit.ly/3A1BxB0
 Stephan Hocks, ‘Die Vertretung unbegleiteter minderjähriger Flüchtlinge’, Asylmagazin 11/2015, 367-373.