You can read the report here.
In our report ‘Hidden Ambitions, we’re asking the Welsh Government, local authorities, charities and private enterprise to pledge their support to make sure that young people leaving care have the right support to realise their ambitions.
This spotlight report highlights some of the inequalities faced by care leavers and those in care, and contains a series of actions that we (the Children’s Commissioner for Wales), Welsh Government, and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) will follow to build a Wales that enables all young people to be the best they can be.
After running a large consultation with young people in 2015, we made it a priority to give care leavers better access to safe and secure housing options and an active offer of a job, education or training place.
We also held several events with young people in care and care leavers and listened to their concerns. Here were some of the most common:
- Being moved out of foster care or residential care as soon as they turn 18, even when this is in the middle of an important year of studies such as A-levels.
- Not being able to stay in their residential care home past the age of 18 under the ‘When I’m Ready’ arrangement, unlike young people in foster care.
- Support ending at the age of 21 unless that young person is engaged in education or training, despite the fact that those not in education, training or work are more likely to need support
As well as this, we asked each local authority what they did to help their care leavers to get into training or employment. You can see the results of that survey here.
What’s it got to do with ambitions?
We cannot expect our care leavers – some as young as 16 – to achieve their ambitions if they are worried about where they will live, how they will pay their bills or how they can find out about what help is available to them.
Care leavers need the same sort of opportunities, assistance and support that all parents try to give their children as they start to make their way in the world.
What needs to change?
Support for all
- All young people leaving care should be able to access support up to the age of 25 (whether or not they are in education/training)
- More of a focus placed by local authorities and carers on developing young people’s skills for independence
- Social services, housing and education departments should all work together to help plan a young person’s move to living independently, consistent with the ways of working under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
- Local authorities should consider setting up forums or discussions groups just for care leavers; what is of interest or concern to a care leaver may be different to what is discussed by children still living in care.
Housing and income
- Local authorities should be using the Welsh Government’s Housing Positive Pathway and the Care Leavers Accommodation and Support Framework developed by Barnardo’s as guidance for all those working with the young person.
- All young people leaving care should have a consistent and transparent package of financial support, underpinned by clear information on the money and grants that they can access when they leave care.
- Welsh Government is looking at what can be done to make Council Tax fairer for people in Wales. Young people leaving care should be given priority within this work.
- Local Authorities should be like large Family Businesses in terms of their role as Corporate Parents of looked after young people. They should be prepared to offer all of the children under their care bespoke access to training and job opportunities in their many areas of employment.
- Support for young people needs to be proactively offered by carers and support workers, to help them to prepare for and access training schemes.
The report contains good examples of support currently offered to young people in care and care leavers to help them with matters like housing, finances, and job opportunities.
We visited two schemes, the Progress Scheme in Caerphilly, and the Step in the Right Direction scheme in RCT, to learn more about how they had helped their young people to access training and employment, and to meet the young people who have benefited.
Step in the Right Direction Scheme
If you need more information about our Hidden Ambitions report, or need it in a different format, please get in touch with us.