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Children leaving care


Children may be taken into care for a number of reasons; they may have been abused or neglected, or they may have families who are struggling to cope in difficult circumstances. Whatever the reason, these children are highly vulnerable.

Their problems are made worse by the number of moves that many of them are forced to make during their time in care, which can also seriously disrupt their education. Not surprisingly, many of them do less well at school than their schoolmates. This has a lasting effect on their adult lives; care leavers are more likely than children who have not been in care to be unemployed, get in to trouble with the law and they often have trouble forming stable relationships. They struggle to cope financially and have to learn how to budget.

Children leaving care facts

  • Young care leavers show significantly lower academic achievement than their peers – just 11% of children in care gain five GCSEs compared to the national average of over 60%.
  • Care leavers are more likely to be unemployed, to become homeless and to spend time in prison.
  • One in seven young people leaving care are pregnant or already mothers.

Services working with children leaving care

Barnardo's leaving care services aim to bridge the gap for children in care between leaving care and living in the adult world. They help young people to develop the life skills they will need to look after themselves, including encouraging them to undertake employment, training or further education. When they leave, Barnardo's helps the young people secure permanent accommodation and remains available to offer support and counselling if necessary.

Our Care Leaver services worked with 2,900 people last year. Our other services worked with an additional 300 care leavers.

For more information and to see our leaving care services

Hey I'm Billie, I'm a care leaver. Read my blog about my journey from being taken into care to life now.