Young people leaving care getting the widespread support they deserve30 October 2013
The Government’s new cross departmental strategy to support young people leaving care was published yesterday. For the first time the Care Leaver Strategy will ensure that all Government departments explicitly address the needs of this highly disadvantaged group of young people.
Research consistently shows that young people who have been in care do not have the same life chances as other young people. They are far more likely to leave school with no qualifications. They are far more likely to become a parent at a young age and far more likely to experience the criminal justice system.
In fact they are also far less likely to enter either further or higher education, gain an apprenticeship or to get a stable job.
For many years NIACE has advocated for more effective and joined up support for young people in and leaving care, particularly as they make important transitions into adulthood and independent life. Our ‘Voices of Care Leavers’ publication highlighted that whilst many young people have positive experiences of being in care, and are supported to achieve and progress in learning, many are failed by the system and by inconsistent, patchy and poor quality support.
These young people need and deserve well planned and integrated support so that they can access learning, explore the range of opportunities available to them, develop high aspirations and achieve their potential.
Danielle, a young care leaver and one of the contributors to our ‘Voices of Care Leavers’ publication, sums up the difference that a positive experience of being in care can make;
“Being in care has made my life better than I thought it would. A lot of people judge people in care and expect them to fail in life because they have had a different life and upbringing. I have met a lot of people who have changed my life…and a lot of them have helped me to achieve better things. If I had not been in care my life would have been completely different and I probably would not be the person that I am today.”
We are really pleased to see this new strategy and hope it will make real progress in enabling all young people who have been in care to overcome the barriers the face, break down cycles of disadvantage and lead full and active adult lives. Do you support care leavers, or have you been in care yourself? What do you think of the new strategy? We’d really like to hear from you – please leave a comment below or e-mail me at: [email protected] if you prefer.