Life after care: the experiences of young people from different ethnic groups.

Ravinder Barn, Linda Andrew, Nadia Mantovani

Young white people who have been in the care system do less well at
school, are more likely to become involved in crime and drug use,
and more likely to experience homelessness than young care leavers
from other ethnic groups, according to new research. 

The study of 261 young people aged 16 to 21 from six local
authorities also finds that young white people had more disrupted
care placements than other groups.

Children from a Caribbean or mixed race background were also at
high risk, but stability was often improved when they were placed
in families that reflected their own ethnic background.

African and Asian young people had the least disrupted placement
histories while they were in care, and were also less likely to
report having been excluded from school. Young Asians also
expressed the most satisfaction with their social workers.

Although Caribbean, white and mixed-race care leavers were equally
likely to have been excluded from school, Caribbean young people
were more likely to go to college later and obtain educational

The study finds that preparations for leaving care are also still
inadequate. Many young people had negative experiences of “pathway
planning” – required under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.
They felt swept along by the rapid changes they were expected to
make after they reached the age of 16, and many thought they were
given no choice about their housing.

More than half of the sample were living alone and were lonely and
afraid that they wouldn’t cope with managing their finances. About
half the young people in all ethnic groups couldn’t remember
getting help and advice with basic challenges such as housing,
careers, claiming benefits, cooking and budgeting.

Although most felt poorly supported by social workers, many were
still in touch with their foster parents.

Review by Frances Rickford

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