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Barnardo's calls for Government not to abandon children looked after by the state

Release Date: 09 May 2013

Barnardo's is calling for more to be done to help children in care move to adulthood.

Care leavers in England need support for longer, the UK’s largest children’s charity says. Now Barnardo’s is calling for the cut off age for support to be raised from 21 to 25 for all care leavers for the first time.

It comes as the Queen’s Speech announces that the Children and Families Bill – which has no provision for care leavers at all – will continue into the next Parliament term.

Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

Each child has something unique to offer our society and deserves an equal start in adult life.

Children leaving care are often the most vulnerable young people in our society who need the most support. Unfortunately this support is often not available nor is it consistent across the country.

Paradoxically only care leavers who are in education, employment or training get support until they are 25. Those who aren’t – and who arguably need it the most - do not.

That is why we are calling for support for all care leavers to be raised to the same age.

The number of young people aged 16 and over leaving care has risen each year from 8,170 in 2007 to 10,000 in 2012.

A previously unpublished YouGov survey conducted on behalf of Barnardo’s found that only 5 per cent of UK parents expected their children to leave home by 18, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) expecting them to be at least 26 and 64 per cent expecting them to be at least 22 before they left home.

Barnardo’s believes all care leavers should be supported by personal advisors for longer to help improve what are currently comparatively low outcomes.

Care leavers are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, who are more likely to become homeless, be unemployed and spend time in prison:

  • Care leavers show significantly lower academic achievement than their peers – just 12.8 per cent of children in care gain five GCSEs compared to the national average of more than 57.9 per cent.
  • Children in care are four times more likely to have a mental health disorder.
  • Of the young people in the youth justice system, more than 40 per cent have been in local authority care at some point.  23 per cent of the adult prison population has previously been in care.

The call comes six months after the Department for Education and Barnardo’s vice president, fashion designer and care leaver himself Bruce Oldfield launched the Care Leavers Charter.

Ends

Notes to editors

This media release is relevant to England only.

Barnardo’s has 24 leaving care support services across the UK, used by around 2,500 care leavers, all of which aim to bridge the gap for looked after children between leaving care and independent living.

Barnardo's is the second largest provider of children’s advocacy services in England with more than 30 services providing children’s rights and advocacy for vulnerable children, children in care and care leavers.