A new framework aimed at improving the accommodation available for care leavers has been launched.
In a bid to prevent homelessness among care leavers – who make up 30% of the homeless population – the framework sets out what local authorities should do to help young people comfortably into after-care accommodation.
The care leavers accommodation framework was developed with the input of five local authorities, and has been launched by the charities Barnardo’s and St. Basil’s. The Youth Justice Board and leaving care and housing charities were also involved in the process.
The full framework lists five steps that local authorities should take to put young people in control of their housing:
- Train young people on tenancies and the housing market
- Involve young people in planning their accommodation
- Reduce the housing crisis by having emergency options
- Commission a wide range of housing types
- Develop skills and confidence ahead of a move to independent living
Rachel Coffey, assistant director of policy and research at Barnardo’s, said the framework was based on St. Basil’s’ positive youth accommodation pathway, funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2012, which has been implemented by around half of local authorities. Several authorities have also already requested further support in using and applying the new framework in their local area.
“We want to see sector-led improvement, but there is also a role for central government to help share and promote good practice across the sector,” Coffey said.
Accommodation for care leavers needs to be as flexible as the young people who use it, Coffey added, and local authorities should commission a range of options for various ages.
“Examples include for young people who face multiple issues, for example mental health problems, who might need some intensive support in small-scale accommodation,” she said. “Or it might include lower-intensity supportive schemes like foyers for those in education or training, to floating support for young people who are in employment and living in their own flats but who need a bit of extra help.
“The main point is that the provision needs to be flexible to meet care leavers’ changing needs.”