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Government launches strategy to support care leavers

Support offered to help care leavers to live independently

The government has announced its strategy for supporting young care leavers. It sets out in one place the steps the government is taking – from housing to health services, from the justice system to educational institutions – to support care leavers to live independently once they have left their placement.

Speaking at the National Care Leaver Week annual conference, Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said:

"Although most children leave care having had positive experiences, it's simply not acceptable that they end up with significantly worse exam results; are more likely to have poorer mental and physical health; or be unemployed or out of education altogether. That makes quality of support - and consistency of support - absolutely essential. They deserve nothing less. If care leavers get patchy services, they are more likely to slip through the cracks.

"We want care leavers to enter adult life with the same opportunities and life chances as their friends. If someone needs a helping hand to get into work, to find a college place or to access the right employment services, it shouldn't matter which part of government provides it.

"For the first time ever, our care leaver strategy will ensure that all government action across every department - from justice to housing, education to finance - is working with one single, united purpose to improve the lives of these vulnerable young people."

The new strategy includes:

Martina Milburn, Chief Executive for The Prince's Trust, said:

"The transition from adolescence into adulthood is a daunting time for young people, bringing new responsibilities and pressures as they become fully independent. Without the support networks that their peers come to rely on, these vulnerable young people are more likely to face unemployment, leave school with few qualifications and struggle with mental health problems – and so this commitment from the government is hugely important to prevent this group from slipping through the net and into a life on benefits."

Around 10,000 young people aged between 16 to 18 leave care each year. The government believes that care leavers should expect the same level of care and support that their friends and classmates get from their parents. Yet some can find it difficult to navigate services or work out what support they are entitled to, with too many ending up unemployed, out of training or education or living in poor accommodation.

Figures published by the Department for Education this year shows that:

The care leaver strategy can be read here.