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More support, not bigger cash handout is answer to care leavers

BASW supports calls by the Children’s Minister to do more for care leavers, but stressed his proposal to put more cash in their hands was not the answer.

Young people coming out of care need continuing support and guidance to make a successful transition into adulthood rather than a cash hand-out, said the UK’s leading organisation for social workers.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson dubbed it a “national scandal” that teenagers are thrown off a “cliff-edge” when they leave care, condemning some to a life of unemployment and crime.

He called on local authorities to provide more support, including a £2,000 allowance towards setting up home.

BASW professional officer Sue Kent said: “It is good the minister recognises the need for more services to support care leavers. However, giving them a specific sum of money is not the solution when all the evidence shows these young people need ongoing support, training opportunities and jobs.

“Instead, funding should be given to the people who know and care for these young people so they can support them through their transition into adulthood as most families do with their own children.

“The idea that we can eradicate the problems faced by those leaving care by giving them £2,000 is a fallacy. Besides, you have to ask where this money will come from when local authorities are struggling to provide essential frontline services in the face of continued cuts to their budgets?”

Ms Kent said giving young people in care the option to stay with their foster carers or at their residential home would also help provide a more stable platform from which to enter adult life.