Disadvantaged care leavers need more support

The most disadvantaged care leavers are not receiving adequate
support despite the provisions of the Children (Leaving Care) Act,
a coalition of 22 organisations has warned, writes
Clare Jerrom.

Professional help for some of the most vulnerable 16-21 year
olds, including disabled teenagers and young offenders, is lagging
behind that provided for other young people leaving the care
system, the report warned.

Asylum seekers, young parents and young people disaffected from
learning are also missing out, according to the report by the
Action on Aftercare coalition.

Overall, the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 has led to an
improvement in support for care leavers as a result of greater
resources and more specialist professionals. Eighty six per cent of
leaving care teams had produced new policies to help young people
leaving care.

However, the report argued that too little priority has been
given to the health needs of care leavers, particularly mental
health problems and teenage pregnancies.

Workers also feared that there was a danger that leaving care
services could fall down the agenda on local authorities’
priority lists once “ring fencing” comes to an end in

Amanda Allard, chairperson of Action on Aftercare, which
includes NCH, Barnardo’s, the Prince’s Trust and
Childline, said the research was evidence that “the battle
for care leavers is certainly not won”.

The report recommends that targeted work must be undertaken to
develop specific strategies and resources for working with hard to
reach care leavers. Research should be carried out on the
longer-term outcomes for care leavers.

Foster carers and residential care workers must be fully trained
and supported to undertake their responsibilities in preparing
young people through the transition from care to adult life and
young people should be fully involved in the strategic development
of leaving care services.

‘Setting the
Agenda: What’s Left To Do in Leaving Care?’

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