From Care to Independence (FC2I) is a five-year project focusing on support for care leavers. NCB carried out research in The Prince’s Trust’s Fairbridge Programme which supports young people to achieve positive outcomes. The project is funded by The Big Lottery. The programme was delivered by The Prince’s Trust. The research provides recommendations for local and national policy makers as well as practitioners working with care leavers.
Around 11,400 young people left care in England, aged 16 and over, in the year ending March 2016. This represents an increase of over 40% in the last decade. The Government’s “Keep on caring” strategy recognised that the quality of support varies considerably. Subsequently, care leavers often struggle to cope with independent living, placing them at heightened risk of social exclusion, homelessness, unemployment or involvement in crime.
This was a mixed methods project, which included:
- Surveys of young people before and after Fairbridge
- Surveys and logs submitted by Fairbridge staff
- Interviews with care leavers at various points during and after their time with Fairbridge
- Interviews with Fairbridge site managers
- Interviews with Social workers and/or Personal Advisers
The final report was published in May 2017. Key findings included:
- 62% achieved a place in education; training, volunteering, paid work, an apprenticeship, self-employment, or a place on another Prince’s Trust programme.
- Other gains included improved readiness to work, commitment to achievable goals and more impressive CVs.
- All three aspects of the programme – the weeklong Access course; the one to one sessions and Follow On courses – were seen as important, by practitioners and young people in developing different skills.
- Having an assigned keyworker from the start was key to building trusting relationships and commitment, which was important for engagement with, and progress on, Fairbridge.
- Sustaining progress beyond Fairbridge was dependent on young people having good support networks, and having their underlying needs met, particularly in relation to mental health.
We held workshops with professionals working with children in care and care leavers in June 2017 to explore the findings in more depth. These were attended by a range of local authority staff and third sector organisations, who were enthusiastic about taking the recommendations forward in their organisations. You can read more about the workshops here.
Download the From Care to Independence report here.