The Separated Children in Europe Programme's Statement of Good Practice (Save the Children and UNHCR, 2004) advises that every separated child should be allocated an independent guardian or adviser. However, there is wide variation in how this advice has been interpreted across Europe, with some guardians being professional and others volunteers, with some focusing primarily on the legal status of separated children and others on the children's general care and wellbeing. In Ireland, there is no guardianship system designed specifically for separated children. This paper analyses the legal and policy context of guardianship for separated children in Ireland and draws on research undertaken with 16 professionals who provide services for separated children. The research findings highlight a number of key themes including: 'cracks' in the asylum process through which separated children and young people fall; conflicts between legalistic and holistic interpretations of guardianship; variations of informal and formal advocacy for separated children in practice; and the potential of guardians to facilitate children's 'voices' and 'best interests'. The article points to the fundamental tension between migration and child care policy that potentially undermines the development of a guardianship service for separated children. Copyright (C) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.