The government has launched a commitment to help care leavers access education, employment and training, following a two-year delay, announcing an aim to create 10,000 "work opportunities" for young people.
Plans to create a Care Leaver Covenant were first announced in May 2016 by then Prime Minister David Cameron as a way to encourage organisations to offer more support to care leavers in England. It was due to launch in October 2016 but has suffered a series of delays.
Launching the initiative today, children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said a total of 65 organisations including businesses such as Amazon, Rolls Royce and Barclays Lifeskills, as well as charities, and every government department in England have signed up to the document, with dozens more committed to sign.
A Care Leaver Covenant website has been set up with details of the initiative. Signatories have pledged to give care leavers access to work placements, internships or training sessions.
Government figures show that in the year to 31 March 2017, 40 per cent of care leavers aged 19 to 21 were not in education, employment or training (Neet) and the status of a further 10 per cent was unknown. This compares with a Neet rate of 12.7 per cent of all 19- to 24-year-olds were Neet during January to March 2017.
Zahawi, said: "Becoming an adult is a daunting and challenging time for all of us, but I know from speaking to many young people leaving care, this transition can feel like facing a cliff edge.
"This is a landmark moment on how businesses can support care leavers, who through no fault of their own have been dealt a difficult hand in life.
"Young people leaving care have often overcome huge challenges but struggle to achieve the same positive outcomes in life as their peers, which is simply not fair. When we talk about burning injustices, this is what we mean - so we need to be more ambitious for these young people.
"Working with businesses, charities and every government department, our new covenant will improve the offer we make to these young people, through work placements, skills training or access to university so that they can fulfil their potential and flourish as adults."
The package of support for care leavers includes:
Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo's, which has signed up to the covenant, said: "Sadly young people leaving care often struggle to gain good qualifications and get their foot on the career ladder. That's why Barnardo's is committed to offering high-quality work placements as well as specialist advice and support.
"We believe that all young people deserve the opportunity to follow their dreams. That's why our ambition is for care leavers to have the same life chances as other young people, including access to employment, education and training."
News & Jobs
News stories and job vacancies from our member agencies, the fostering sector and the world of child protection and safeguarding as a whole.
Browse News Archives