The Care Leaver Strategy, launched a year ago, set out the actions that Government departments would take in order to improve the support that care leavers receive during their transition to adulthood and independence. A new report documents the progress that has been made 1 year on and sets out how the Government intends to further improve support for care leavers.
As the original strategy document made clear, the ambition is to give care leavers the same level of care and support that other young people receive from their parents. The strategy built on a substantial programme of work to improve care leavers’ lives that had been put in place over the past 4 years, including the development of the Care Leaver’s Charter, the introduction of over 54,000 Junior ISAs for children in care, bursaries for care leavers participating in further and higher education, and the introduction of a new inspection framework which now requires Ofsted to make a specific judgement on the support provided to care leavers as part of its inspections of children’s social care.
Since last year’s strategy was launched, the Government has continued to improve support for care leavers, in particular by introducing the ‘Staying Put’ arrangements, which will allow thousands of children in foster placements to remain with their foster carers until age 21, improving monitoring of the care leaver’s journey through to adulthood through the collection of enhanced data, and providing care leavers with Personal Adviser support until the age of 25 (if they remain in education) or training, or have plans to return to education or training.
The 2013 strategy illustrated the priority that Government as a whole gives to improving the lives of care leavers. Its implementation is overseen by the Social Justice Cabinet Committee, chaired by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, which invited care leavers to attend one of its meetings to discuss the issues that most affect their lives. This provided a unique opportunity for Ministers across government to consider the barriers that prevent care leavers from achieving their full potential, and the support that is available to overcome them. Ministers also committed to spend time shadowing a care leaver and to provide care leavers with work experience opportunities in their departments.
Much has been achieved over the past year and the Government remains committed to securing further improvements for care leavers in the year ahead.