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Care leavers 'set up to fail'

Care Leavers

Barnardo’s is urging local authorities to better support young people leaving care, after a new report revealed they are effectively ‘set up to fail’ at independent living.

Our latest in-depth, qualitative research ‘The Costs of Not Caring: Supporting English Care Leavers into Independence’ shows that the lack of support for young people living independently in council housing after leaving care, could ultimately end up costing the taxpayer more in the long run.

Some children’s services are placing care leavers in unsuitable housing with ‘unrealistic’ expectations as to how well they can cope with living alone. Some young people are provided with good quality accommodation and emotional support, but this stops abruptly when they turn 18, and as a result, they can find themselves unable to pay the rent and getting into arrears. Some care leavers end up in huge debt and experience serious mental health issues due to isolation and loneliness.

Barnardo’s is now working to improve the way children’s services and housing departments meet the needs of care leavers, by lobbying them to make urgent changes to their practices. Suggestions include a personal advisor and contingency plan for each care leaver. This ensures authorities recognise the importance of ‘sharing budgets’ for care leavers as they support their transition into adulthood.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said: “Local authorities care for some of the most vulnerable young people in society. They need to make extra effort to help them on their journey to independence.

“For all parents – including ‘corporate parents’ such as local authorities – the task of looking after children doesn’t stop when they turn 18. Children’s and housing services must work more closely together to give care leavers the right start to adulthood.”

The full report is available on our website.

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