NCB and The Prince’s Trust have been working with professionals from across England to explore how we can improve support for care leavers.
Last year around 11,400 young people left care in England. This represents a growing population, with an increase of 40% in the last decade. Care leavers face significant challenges in achieving qualifications and entering the job market. Many also experience poor mental health.
Our new research on From Care to Independence explores “what works” in supporting care leavers into positive outcomes such as education, training or employment and improve their skills and confidence.
Supported by The Big Lottery, the research focused on The Prince’s Trust’s Fairbridge programme, but contains recommendations for policy makers and practitioners across the sector.
This month, we held two workshops with professionals who support children in care and care leavers to explore the findings.
Our research highlighted challenges for care leavers around mental health (49%), not being in employment or education (78%) and poor GCSE results (87%). Our findings chimed with the experience of professionals who emphasised the impact of trauma from past experiences and difficult family relationships.
Professionals also agreed with our findings on “what works” in delivering support for care leavers. They agreed on the importance of flexible and personalised support, given the range of challenges care leavers were likely to be facing.
Professionals who came to the workshops thought it was important for the sector to be continuously challenging itself to provide better support for this population. We should regularly and ask ourselves “would this service be good enough for my own children?”
Professionals highlighted local areas of good and promising practice, but noted that more needed to be done before this question can be answered with a consistent “yes” at a local or national level.
The workshops ended with us looking to the future. Participants were encouraged to implement change in their own organisations, based on the report’s recommendations. Ideas included:
- Consultation with care leavers to identify their priorities;
- Setting up a peer mentoring scheme for care leavers to mentor looked after children;
- Promoting organisational change to create more collaborative and multi-agency working within and outside of local authorities; and
- Raising awareness of the From Care to Independence report amongst staff.
We would like to invite all organisations and professionals supporting care leavers to explore the research findings and consider how you might respond to the recommendations to improve support for care leavers.