The Care Leavers’ Association believes that:
- The Children and Young Person’s Act 2008 has great potential to improve the lives of care leavers in the United Kingdom. However, the Act does not go far enough in addressing the needs of the thousands of young people who leave local authority care each year.
- Two particular failings are the early age of independence and the high probability of a disrupted education.
- There are large differences between local authorities in the provision of services. This “post code lottery” is totally unacceptable.
We call on the government to: –
- Ensure that no young person leaves care before the age of 18 years. In the meantime, all young care leavers under 18 should be given the automatic right to return to care if it is not working out. (This would mean removing the ‘Relevant Child’ category from the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000).
- Allow young people to remain in care until the age of 25, whether enrolled in higher education or not, should they wish to.
- Improve access to further and higher education by removing the need for young people to have started such education by the age of 21 years if they are to retain eligibility for support in this area. This age limit for starting a programme of education should be removed altogether.
- Develop and introduce “National Minimum Standards for Accommodation provided for Young People Leaving Care”. This should ensure appropriate, stable and safe accommodation for care leavers. Compliance by local authorities in meeting such standards should be routinely monitored and regulated.
- Require responsible authorities to provide and monitor effective systems and appropriately trained staff to prepare and support young people for independent living.
- Ensure that young people receive adequate training and support, until the age of 25, so that they can make a successful and gradual transition to independent living.