Support for care leavers needs shake-up executive admits

Support for young people leaving full-time care in Scotland is
peacemeal and haphazard, according to a report from the Scottish
executive, writes Nicola Barry.
The report from the ‘Throughcare and Aftercare Working Group’
exposes the frailties of present arrangements, but also proposes a
radical shake-up of services for some of the most vulnerable
members of society.
The group, set up in November 1999, advises the executive on how to
improve services to young people who are looked after.
The research reveals that current throughcare (preparation for
leaving care) and aftercare (longer term support) services vary
enormously across Scotland.
In Scotland, some 11,000 children and young people are looked after
by local authorities. Many of these young people find themselves
with no educational qualifications and no job prospects. Many end
up sleeping rough, unable to find stability in anything they
The group stress how much these young people need support to
successfully move from care into some form of independent
In order to help local authorities and the executive monitor this
transition in future, the group have made a number of
They want local authorities to collect accurate information – by
age and last placement – on the exact numbers of youngsters leaving
care as well as keep informed as to where they are living and what
qualifications and training they have, if any.
Each young person should be allotted a key worker and have his or
her own through and after care plan.
Jim Dickie, presdient of the Association of Directors of Social
Work, said: “Local authorities and their partners already
provide a range of supports, including financial, to these young
people but more needs to be done.  

“Proposed legislation to remove entitlement to benefits
for 16 and 17-year-olds leaving care and to transfer these funds to
local authorities, can potentially create an integrated fund to
meet all their needs in a co-ordinated way. 

“However, the devil is in the detail. The level of funding
to be transferred is not yet known, nor do we know the full range
of benefits to be included in the transfer. We also need to know
what proportion of funding is associated with the cost of
administering and tracking payments,” he said. 

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