Leaving care services are “not working for the most vulnerable” warns Action for Children

More emotional support and the option to stay in care until 21 will help care leavers avoid instability and homelessness, says a report by the children's charity

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Almost a third of young people leave care at 16 or 17 despite people believing that 21 should be the average age for leaving home, an Action for Children report has found.

The charity’s Too much, too young report warns that vulnerable young people are being “forced to grow up too quickly” and often end up in unstable housing or experience homelessness.
Based on findings from interviews with 31 care leavers, the report says the reasons young people entered care, the care system itself and a lack of support after leaving care all contribute to the instability they experience.

The charity found that care leaving services are preoccupied with processes and practical considerations, and lacked a focus on emotional issues and the reasons why young people entered care.

“This failure not only makes it significantly more challenging for the most vulnerable young people to move into independence, but actually sets them up to fail,” says the report.

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Emma Smale, head of policy at Action for Children, said: “The system is not working for the most vulnerable young people, so that’s young people who have emotional and mental health difficulties, behavioural needs and disabilities.”

She called for more emphasis on emotional health in care and for emotional and therapeutic care placements that can help young people in their placements.

Smale also said that while Staying Put arrangements let young people stay in foster care until 21, “the evidence shows us that young people who are very vulnerable and have more complex needs are more likely to be in residential care, and more likely to take themselves out of care earlier”.

She said young people in care need the option to remain in residential care until 21.

“We need a residential option and we need something that works for these young people that might actually be much more flexible but still enables them to have a place they can call home until they are 21,” Smale said.

Action for Children’s report says care leavers who return to their family home at 16 should be allowed to re-enter the care system if those arrangements break down up to the age of 21.

The report also urges adult services, care leaving services and CAMHS to work together to guarantee continued access to services after 18.

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3 Responses to Leaving care services are “not working for the most vulnerable” warns Action for Children

  1. mark October 14, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    If a Government targets scarce resources at:

    * a big tax cut for the richest people

    * trident

    * fees for a team of overpaid solicitors and legal experts to try to fight th E.U. cap on banker bonuses

    whilst savagely cutting funding of local authorities, it is unsurprising that services for kids leaving care are “not working”.

  2. Fiona October 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Youngsters are indeed falling through the net leaving councils and the state with increasing costs of not only housing but also the consequences of not engaging at the earliest opportunity before crime, drugs or alcohol addiction takes hold. Young people who feel isolated and alone are often also at their most impressionable and this can lead to gang membership and violence, which have massive associated costs to individuals and wider society.
    LAs need to see the value in maintaining funding to charities such as LB Bromley-based LATCH which not only finds and pays for rooms with host families for homeless 16-25 year olds but also provides mentoring and support to get them back into higher education/employment and off benefits. The project is acting as a social investment model by empowering young people to become independent and not reliant upon state benefits while at the same time making an early intervention in order to help them.

  3. Philip Craig October 16, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    This is yet another area in which our society places our future generation into profit making organisations who’s sole aim and purpose is to make money out of vulnurable young people.
    Until this Country takes young people in need of support/care seriously we will never move forward.

    We have to address the roots of the problem first before we can even begin to think about how we best support our young and needy in this most akward and difficult period in their life.
    The root cause is Govenments and policy makers total lack of respect/ regard and even care towards both young people and the those who try to look after and support them.
    For example mainly children’s residential care is not considered professional enough to train our staff to professional standards (let’s face it most kids in residential care are those who have failed in Foster care) as most kids in foster care now have the option to remain in a loving caring setting those in residential are kicked out either on their 16th birthday or as soon as they finnish school.
    I ask, would you kick out your own child at 16!! then why do we think its ok to do this and then furthermore we place them into unregulated provision with only a few hours a week support.

    Look guys it seems every time i make a comment about the state of our children and young people in care it come over as aggressive and or blameing But you know what i don’t make no apology for this. because it has to be said.

    Look at the situation and ask yourself how many independent semi independent unit are their in London yet alone England. who owns/runs/manages these provisions.
    The same could be said about children’s residentia care.

    Who is fighting our corner for the Govenment to stop allowing authoraties making excusses that residnetial care is to costly so let send it all out into the private/independent field and generate lot’s of Money Why don’t Ofsted stand up and be counted, can’t they see the main problems is that we are working with some of the most Complex issues we work with a vast range of issues around todays youth culture
    such as , Drugs, Sexual exploitation, Gun/Knife crime, Mental health, anger management, just to name a few but we expect unqaulified staff to understand and make and build up menaingful relationships work though the emotional turmoil agression/ anger and frustration with our hands tied behind our back by regulations/ standards and Health and safety its no wonder the whole child care system and in particular residential care and supported living is in such a sorry state. Someone please stand up and be heard who can truley make people listen and understand we need to first train our staff to the standards that’s required to work directly with this wide range of complex needs and secondly we need to have the facilaties and resources in which to work with these complexities.
    Government & Local authorities need to take responsibility to address these matters and stop passing the buck or pretending you can’t hear what were saying.