Some looked-after children in England were given no notice when they left state care, a new report has found.
Many were also placed in unsuitable accommodation and had not agreed to their leaving-care plans, which is required by law, says the research from the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
The study by Roger Morgan, the commission’s children’s rights director, said there was “little middle ground” in the quality of support care leavers received. In most cases it was either excellent or poor, and in some it was non-existent.
And while many young people were full of praise for their leaving care workers, they believed the system was “crap”.
Morgan plans to produce a guide outlining care leavers’ entitlements after young people told him they would like more information.
Maxine Wrigley, national co-ordinator of A National Voice, the charity run by people who have been in care, said social services were often guilty of a “lack of communication” with young people leaving care, and that a lack of resources was also to blame.
The report said councils “appeared to show little regard for the future welfare and safety of some care leavers” by placing them in unsuitable accommodation, such as hostels.
Wrigley said these findings echoed those in her organisation’s There’s No Place Like Home report, published last year.
“Housing is so important,” she added. “How can you expect people to get an education and do well if they haven’t got a decent place to live?”
Lisa Christensen, the Association of Directors of Social Services lead on leaving care, said it was “fundamentally poor practice” for looked-after children to be given no notice about leaving care or for them not to agree to their leaving care plans.
However, she said the reforms to children’s services put forward in Every Child Matters and the Children Act 2004 should make a difference as organisations focused more on children’s needs and interagency working.
“What happens to care leavers is a good test of whether things are moving in that direction,” she added.