Leaving Care

Local authorities are ambitious about improving the lives of care leavers and take our corporate parenting responsibilities very seriously, and that responsibility rightly extends beyond 18 to the age of 25.

Many young people leaving care are well supported into adulthood and go on to have happy, successful lives, sadly however, that is not always the case. Despite greater support for care experienced young people over recent years, far too many experience challenges such as homelessness and unemployment, and lazy stereotypes about care continue to exist. Young people leaving care generally live independently before their peers and may not have the networks around them to make what can be an anxious time for lots of us somewhat easier. Therefore, our role in preparing young people leaving care for adulthood and equipping them with skills, such as how to cook, budget and access support with housing and employment, is critical.

Earlier this year Ofsted published research looking at the planning and preparation that happens before leaving care. A lack of preparedness and personal readiness for the realities of a move to independence were strong themes in the research as was the importance of relationships. Local authorities are working hard to support care experienced young people with the transition to independence, for example, many local authorities have introduced council tax exemptions and have increased the number of apprenticeships on offer. Many care experienced young people can stay in care longer than they used to under local authority Staying Put and Staying Close placements if they are not quite ready to live independently. However, clearly there is much more to do.

The independent review of children’s social care put forward many recommendations to further bolster support for those who have been in care which we welcome. Much of what is proposed in the review including tackling stigma and discrimination, making care experience a protected characteristic and giving care experienced people priority access to housing for example, has the potential to make a huge difference in their lives. The government will publish its full response to the review later this year and we stand ready to work together to develop an implementation plan that delivers for care experienced children and young people.

We also await the outcome of a recent Ofsted consultation which proposes a standalone judgement for care experienced people under the ILACS framework. This feels helpful in terms of shining a light on this important cohort and continuing to drive forward improvements.

This column first appeared in CYP Now - Leaving Care: Policy context | CYP Now

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