Policies to support looked-after children into further education are failing because they are too fragmented and localised, a damning report has warned.
The report, published today by The Who Cares? Trust, found the government’s approach to the issue has “confused” young people and professionals working with them.
It claimed young people have been abandoned to the “whims of localism”.
Although recent policies, including the pupil premium and the 16-19 bursary, have delivered more financial support for looked-after children and care leavers, the charity found the government has not sufficiently helped young people and professionals to understand this.
Instead, the report found implementation of these schemes has been left to local bodies which are given “too little guidance” and subject to “minimal central scrutiny” about how they spend the money.
This has led to a wide variety of practice and a confusing picture on the ground, which means many young people are missing out on their entitlements, the report found.
“This research has confirmed that care leavers still face real challenges getting into college and university,” said Natasha Finlayson, chief executive of the Who Cares? Trust.
“The government has brought in a range of policies that aim to help open up opportunities for these young people, but unfortunately a misplaced determination to leave everything to individual schools, colleges and universities has undermined their efforts, exacerbated the postcode lottery of care and created new barriers to learning.”