The government has announced an additional £51m to support care leavers and young people transitioning to independence.
The funding will extend existing Department for Education flagship schemes Staying Put and Staying Close for an additional year.
The package includes:
The DfE is also set to provide more than 5,000 more laptops for care leavers through the Get Help with Technology scheme, which will help to prevent loneliness and isolation among this group of young people. The laptops and routers will mean they can more easily keep in touch with their personal advisers and wider support networks, as well as helping them access support services such as for education, mental health support and searching for employment opportunities online.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Every young person in care deserves to live in accommodation that meets their needs and keeps them safe – anything less is unacceptable, and so continuing to prioritise children in care or leaving care is absolutely vital.
“The measures build on our shared ambition across government to level up outcomes and opportunities for everyone, but especially the most vulnerable – by providing safer homes, reducing isolation among young people leaving care, and by making sure they have a strong support network to rely on as they take steps into adult life.”
"This new funding will help care leavers as they navigate the sometimes perilous transition into living independently, whether that's through advice from a personal adviser or rapid support if they find themselves with no roof over their head,” he said.
"Taken together with the recent exemption from the shared accommodation rate, this is a real step forward for care leavers."
Meanwhile, a report by charity Barnardo’s reveals the extent of unsafe, unsuitable and unhealthy accommodation offered to vulnerable young people when they leave care and how this differs from that offered to children.
Its survey of 2,000 adults found that only one in five received no support from parents when they first moved out of the family home to live independently. Interviews the charity did with 23 care leavers about their experiences found an overwhelming proportion reported having little or no choice about where they moved after leaving care, many found the whole process of finding somewhere to live and moving in to be "scary" and did not feel ready to live independently.
Its No Place Like Home report calls on the government to provide more support for the Staying Close scheme, double to £4,000 the ‘setting up home’ grant, and develop robust standards for semi-independent accommodation.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Many young people leaving the care system enter adulthood without a strong support network, leaving them particularly vulnerable.
“Having a safe and stable home is one of the most important factors in helping care leavers to recover from past trauma, gain qualifications and secure stable employment. Yet our research has demonstrated that care leavers are too often expected to live in conditions that are unsuitable and at worst unsafe.
“The government has a unique opportunity to improve the system for care leavers, through the Independent Review of Children's Social Care. We must also make it easier for young people to stay with their foster carers up to the age of 21; and when they do live independently, accommodation must be safe and appropriate to meet their needs.”
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