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Support System for Care Leavers Not Working

The National Audit Office have stated that the system for supporting young people when they leave care is not working effectively.

Despite a system and a legal framework being in place and an inspection unit, the number of care leavers obtaining employment, education and training has fallen significantly since 2007. According to the National Audit Office report, states that in 2013-14, over 10,000 young people aged over 16 left care, a significant increase of almost 50% since 2003-04. Furthermore, the report found that 33% of those aged 16 or over who left care did so before they turned 18.

Difficult Transition to Adulthood

While the government aims to aid those in care with the same support in finding a job and setting up a home, the NAO have warned that they are failing. According to the expert report, many of the leaving care are or will struggle to adapt to adulthood, with many care leavers experiencing social exclusion, unemployment, health problems or ending up in custody.

The report by the NAO states that only 50% of the children in care have emotional health and behaviour that is considered to be normal. With 50% of young people opting to live at home until at least 22, many of those in care are forced to leave at 18 and find a way of living for themselves. As a result, many of those leaving care are struggling to adapt and suffering in life after care.

The NAO have praised some of the government initiatives aimed to keep young people in care till 21 but have stated that it is too early to measure many of these initiatives introduced by the government. In total, local authorities spent on average £6,250 for each care leaver in 2013-14, ranging from an estimated £300 to £20,000.

Ofsted inspections of care leaver services have found that two-thirds of services inspected require improvement or are inadequate. As well as this, their inspections found that local authorities have no information on 17% of their 19-21-year-old care leavers even though they are often vulnerable.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "Addressing the poor life outcomes of young people leaving care is a longstanding problem. The cost of their not moving into adulthood successfully is high. Stronger central and local leadership is urgently required to get a grip on this problem."

Linda Briheim-Crookall, Senior Policy and Service Development Manager for Coram Voice, contributor to the report, said:

"A significant number of the young people we support with advocacy have emotional difficulties which can be exacerbated by their precarious situation of leaving care unsupported. As NAO's report highlights, government data currently collected on care leavers includes education, training and employment, and accommodation, yet no data collected includes important information on wellbeing.

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