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Tagged In:  Social Work, Social Worker

Today marks the start of National Care Leavers’ Week (21st Oct- 28th Oct), an annual event organised by The Care Leavers’ Foundation. 

As one of the week’s aims is to focus the minds of politicians on the support these vulnerable individuals require and the challenges they face as they enter adulthood, we take a look at some of this year’s discussions and research into the needs of care leavers. 

As we discuss, in the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News magazine, Care leavers in England are leaning on the government to assist them with housing, training and employment beyond the current age of 21.

Findings from the youth coalition Access All Areas, shows care leavers are resoundingly in favour of extending the care leaving age to 25, whether or not they are in education or training. What’s more, the call follows Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield’s recommendation to extend the age to 25. 

In a National Audit Office review, a third of the 10,000 young people in England that leave care each year do so before the age of 18. 40% of 19-year-old care leavers are not in education, training or employment. Furthermore, a survey by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner highlighted that one in three recipients felt they had left care before they were ready to live independently. This prompted the Children’s Commissioner for England’s latest call to raise the care leaving age. In a poignant statement, Anne Longfield said:

“When a child reaches 18, a parent would not wave goodbye to them for good and close the door to them, so we shouldn’t do so for children in care, who more than any of us, need a positive springboard for the future.”

However, with the swift and largely unexpected closure of KIDS Company and the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) this year, it’s been somewhat of a precarious time. After all, BAAF had been speaking out on behalf of looked after children for over 30 years – and was fervently pushing for more support for care leavers. 

Children’s charity Coram is now continuing BAAF’s research, policy, professional advice and development work housed under the CoramBAAF Adoption & Fostering Academy. It is not yet apparent though whether the new organisation will continue with the same level of campaign activity on behalf of looked after and adopted children and young people. 

However, what is clear is that more needs to be done to provide those exiting care with a level of support on par with their peers, and it’s hoped that National Care Leavers’ Week will highlight what needs to be done to address this particular issue. 
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