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Support for care leavers

Briefing Paper Number CBP08249, 26 October 2018

Authors: Nerys Roberts, Tim Jarrett; Tom Powell; Steven Kennedy; Manjit Gheera; Rachael Harker and Wendy Wilson

This briefing paper provides general background on the development of Government policies to support care leavers, and existing support available in key areas such as: social services; housing; education and training; health services; and the social security system.

It mostly deals with the position in England, but includes some information about support for care leavers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who are care leavers?

The focus of this paper is young people aged 16+ leaving local authority care. Support for younger children moving into and out of care, or leaving care through adoption or other routes, are not considered in detail in this report.

Outcomes for care leavers

In a July 2016 policy document, Keep on caring, the Department for Education (DfE) concluded that outcomes for care leavers remained much worse than for their counterparts in the general population. Furthermore, the quality of leaving care services provided by local authorities remained variable. Earlier, in 2015, the National Audit Office had concluded that addressing the poor life outcomes of young people leaving care had been “a longstanding problem” and that the cost of their not moving successfully into adulthood was high.

Government policy

The then-Government published its Care leaver strategy for England in October 2013. This identified several key areas where care leavers needed better (and more joined-up) support, including in education; employment; finance; health; housing; and the justice system.

More recent developments have included:

• In February 2018, the announcement of up to £5 million of funding for Social Impact Bond-backed projects for care leavers, targeted at Bristol, Sheffield and Lewisham.

• The introduction, in August 2018, of a new Care Leavers’ Apprenticeship Bursary to provide extra financial support.

• In October 2018, the launch of a new Care Leaver Covenant, which the Government hopes will support 10,000 work opportunities for care leavers over the next 10 years.