We want all young people to achieve their full potential in life, but know that care leavers and young people in care may need extra support to help them do this.
Our ambition is to ensure care leavers have the same opportunities to achieve their goals as other young people, who haven’t had experience of the care system. In our work with care leavers, we put young people at the heart of what we do, listening to and co-producing services with them, and making sure they’re involved.
We know that there’s huge diversity in the experiences of young people in the care system. Factors such as family background, age on entering and leaving care, placement type, number of placements, and placement breakdowns all influence young people’s individual journeys, and continue to shape their lives into adulthood.
While research suggests the majority of children in care experience positive outcomes overall, for some their journey into, throughout and leaving the care system can be disruptive and bring a sense of loss and instability – which in turn, can impact how they fare later in life. For example, a significant gap continues to exist between rates of employment, education and training for young people who’ve experienced the care system, and those who haven’t.
In 2019-20 we supported 3,700 people in our leaving care/accommodation support services. This included 2,300 in our leaving care services and 1,400 in our housing and homelessness services.
We also support children and young people in care through our fostering and adoption services, advocacy and network of National Independent Visitors. In 2019-20 our adoption services placed 117 children with adoptive families and our fostering services cared for 822 children.
Supporting care leavers towards independence
Supported lodgings services offer accommodation across the UK. The young people are supported to learn skills such as money management and practical life skills while in a safe environment. Supported lodgings are available for young people who:
- are leaving care
- are facing homelessness
- only have temporary housing
- have refugee or asylum seeker status
We looked at the outcomes for 72 young people across four of our supported lodgings services, across a range of themes including practical life skills, health and money management.
We agree with the young people where they feel they are on a scale from being ‘stuck’ to ‘independent’ in each of the areas, and then assess their progress over time.
How we’re changing
In 2019-20, we worked with care leavers – as the experts in their own experience – to develop our understanding of a term we use a lot when talking about outcomes: ‘positive destinations’. They told us that to them, this term describes the feeling of being in a good place in their lives and that they’re using their time to do something they think is productive. This included:
- Being in a job
- Looking after your family
The overall objective of Care Journeys is to increase the number of care leavers aged 19–21 years who reach ‘positive destinations’. This includes education, employment and training – but also counts other things that young people feel represent a positive step in their lives, for example being a parent, finding secure housing and being able to care for their family.
So we can meet these objectives, we focus on:
- Offering care leavers support with accommodation, parenting, education, employment & training and mental health, as they transition into adulthood
- Listening to and co-producing services with care experienced young people, to make sure they’re involved in decisions about their care
- Changing systems through our strategic partnerships, to provide integrated services for children in and leaving care, and improved opportunities into adulthood
- Influencing wider governmental policy and practice based on our learning and what matters most to care leavers