Survival of the fittest? Improving life chances for care leavers

Document type
Devereux, Caitlin
Centre for Social Justice
Date of publication
28 January 2014
Children and Young People, Social Work, Social Care and Social Services
Social welfare
Material type

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Every year in England almost 10,000 young people leave care. Having had childhoods punctuated by instability and trauma, they leave home earlier and have less support than their peers. Many go on to face extreme difficulties in adulthood.

Recently there has been important progress in improving support for care leavers with the Government’s announcement that care leavers will be able to remain in foster care placements until 21. This report, based on a survey of 100 care leavers and consultation with those who work with them, iden tifies where progress still needs to be made to improve outcomes. The overwhelming response from our consultation, and the message of this report, is that whilst there has been real progress for care leavers in England in recent years, the vast majority of spending and support has been focussed on the better-off care leavers, predominantly those with a stable foster care placement and who are able to remain in education. The care leavers who have not been targets of support – who have had the most unstable time whilst in care and who do not generally remain in education – are slipping through the cracks and experiencing unacceptably poor outcomes. By contrast, the Scottish Government has recently increased support to care leavers universally, allowing all care leavers – including those in residential care and who do not remain in education – to stay in care until 18 and to receive support until 26.

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