This year saw the second independent evaluation, undertaken by the University of East Anglia (UEA), of Staying Close, Staying Connected (SCSC), Break’s innovative service for young people leaving care.
Launched in 2018, SCSC provides supported accommodation together with personalised practical and holistic support for care leavers - helping them to gain confidence and independence. It was one of eight Staying Close projects across the UK, funded by the Department for Education Innovation Programme, and is a partnership between Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Councils.
Based on the views of the young people who have experienced the service, and staff from SCSC and the local authorities, along with data collected throughout the project, the evaluation shows how positively the service has been received, whilst also evolving to meet young people’s needs - working closely with them to shape the service.
There are limited choices available to care leavers and the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government estimates that 26% of the homeless population have care experience. However, the evaluation found that SCSC had been seen as successful in helping care leavers avoid the ‘cliff edge’ scenario that many can face.
In 2021 there were 32,500 care leavers aged between 19- 21, 41% of which were not in employment, training or further education but those supported by SCSC commented positively about the help they have been given in accessing opportunities to increase their confidence and readiness for employment.
There was ample evidence to suggest that SCSC is successfully delivering a wraparound service, with holistic individual support, which has helped young people to develop social networks and build resilience, with positive outcomes for wellbeing and mental health.
The report also found strong improvements for young people in financial and housing stability, and security, whilst potentially risky behaviours such as drug use and alcohol consumption were lower than national comparisons.
“We are really proud of the findings of the UEA’s evaluation of Staying Close, Staying Connected,” comments SCSC Project Manager Stephen Hulme. “We see day to day that the support we give makes a difference but it is fantastic to have this backed up by an independent evaluation that demonstrates that not only do we improve outcomes for young people leaving care, but we save the system money too. Evaluations like this one are influencing national policy with the Government expanding Staying Close across the country and it features as a recommended entitlement to all care leavers in the recent Care Review.”
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