Diverse provision key to services

Leaving care happens at a time of great change for young people.
They may be looking at further education, training or employment

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, which has its first
anniversary this week, aims to improve the life chances of care
leavers. With this in mind, guidance to the act states that “local
authorities should develop a strategy in partnership with housing
providers to provide a range of accommodation to meet the assessed
needs of relevant children and other care leavers”.

Centrepoint’s work with seven London boroughs has identified key
strategic areas that need to be addressed when developing and
planning a range of services for care leavers.

Local authorities must recognise diversity within the care leaver
population. There will be a range of abilities, aspirations and
potential within any group of care leavers, so it is vital that all
care leaving strategies audit and address the particular needs of
young people within the local authority area.

There needs to be a move away from the traditional linear model of
service provision that is often linked to age triggers to more
flexible service models that reflect the fact that the transition
from childhood to adulthood is a gradual process. Flexibility
should underpin all aspects of service provision and contingency
arrangements need to be built into the whole system of Pathway
planning, accommodation and the delivery of personal and financial

For services to accurately reflect local needs they should be
designed around young people rather than developed from a fixed
model of leaving care. The design should be around the specific
needs of leavers, rather than fitting young people through a rigid

Services to care leavers are provided by many statutory and
voluntary agencies and it is therefore important that they are
involved from the beginning in the formulation of the strategy.
Consultation with young people and relevant service providers is
likely to help achieve a sense of ownership and stronger commitment
to the ensuing care leaving strategy.

If care leavers are empowered to make decisions about their futures
it is likely that services will be more responsive to their needs,
transitions to independence will be smoother and their outcomes
will be improved.

David Woods is strategy development manager at homelessness
charity Centrepoint.

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