Memorandum submitted by The Foyer Federation
This response focuses on the following aspects
of the Government's White Paper Care Matters: Time for Change:
Family and parenting support.
Transition to adulthood.
1.1 The Foyer Federation develops and encourages
new approaches to support young people as they make the transition
to adulthood, particularly those who are at risk through homelessness,
family breakdown or other factors. We work through a network of
over 130 accredited Foyers providing holistic services to around
10,000 young people a year around the UK. At the heart of the
Foyer approach is a formal commitment between the young person
and the Foyer. For more than a decade, we have helped develop
accredited learning programmes, initiatives in areas such as health
and wellbeing and early intervention and quality assurance. Our
campaigning and advocacy work draws directly on the experience
of young people themselves.
1.2 The Foyer Federation is now attempting
to apply the holistic Foyer approach more widely and develop new
approaches that better meet the needs of those young people whose
journey to adulthood is particularly difficult eg care leavers,
young offenders and other vulnerable young people. As part of
this the Foyer Federation has been awarded a development grant
and working capital by Futurebuilders England to expand our programme
of providing care leavers, young offenders and young people at
risk with integrated services that support their housing, employment,
education, and provide personal life choices.
1.3 The Foyer Federation and YMCA England
jointly responded to the Green Paper Care Matters: Transforming
the Lives of Children and Young People in Care, in consultation
with young people living in Foyers and YMCAs.
2.1 In its response to the Green Paper,
the Foyer Federation recommended that effective partnership working
required Government to nurture cooperation between LAs and the
voluntary sector, especially with regard to pooling resources
and sharing information. In the White Paper the Government reiterates
their partnership based approach between local authorities and
the voluntary sector, but the main focus is on partnership working
with the private sector.
2.2 Although partnership with the private
sector to improve children in care's educational attainment and
employment opportunities is important, the Foyer Federation is
disappointed that the White Paper does not properly emphasise
the voluntary sector's role more thoroughly and highlights the
sector's ability to work with vulnerable young people to develop
vital life skills training. It would also have been an ideal opportunity
to have highlighted how the private and voluntary sector can work
together in partnership to increase disadvantaged young people's
life chances. For example the Foyer Federation has an ongoing
partnership with Virgin and DSG International to provide work
placements and life skills training in Foyers.
2.3 The White Paper sets out an expectation
that local authorities should make a "pledge" to children
in their care which will cover the services and support children
in care should expect to receive. The Foyer Federation welcomes
this initiative and recognises that the Government sees empowerment
and participation of their children in care as key to better outcomes.
It is however essential that the "pledge" is disseminated
and made available to all children in care in a format that is
easy to read and understand.
2.4 In the Foyer Federation's response to
the Green Paper we raised concerns about social workers not remaining
consistent for a guaranteed period of time for children in care.
We welcome that White Paper's focus on securing attachment and
building the resilience of children in care, of which having contact
with a consistent social worker is of vital importance. Therefore,
if local authorities were made to guarantee access to a consistent
social worker for a guaranteed period of time the child's sense
of security would be enhanced.
2.5 The White Paper also sets out the idea
of an "Independent Visitor". The Foyer Federation sees
this initiative as positive, but is concerned that it is not clear
to what extent the child will have a final decision as to who
is assigned to them in this role. Foyer believes that this needs
to be clarified in order for the Independent Visitor to have maximum
benefit to a young person's life.
3.1 The Foyer Federation welcomes the focus
on early intervention and prevention, and putting resources into
enabling the child as far as possible to remain with their families.
3.2 The Foyer Federation ran a successful
early intervention project, Safe Moves, from 2003-05. The project's
aim was to prevent young people between the age of 13-19 from
leaving their family home in the first place, and if following
the intervention they still felt the need to move out of their
family home they could do so in a non-chaotic and structured way.
The project focused on three main factors: peer mentoring, family
mediation and life skills training. The life skills training was
carried out by Safe Moves workers located in Foyers.
3.3 Safe Moves was developed as a direct
response to needs identified by young people in Foyers and their
experiences of homelessness. The project was piloted in four dissimilar
locations and evaluated by the University of York Centre for Housing
Policy and was found to be "fit for purpose" and "value
3.4 Although the project focused specifically
on youth homelessness, the project showed that in order for prevention
work to be a success the focus must not only be on the needs of
the family and parents, but also the young person.
4.1 The Foyer Federation welcomes the decision
to implement the bursary for children in care who is attending
or wishes to attend higher education, and furthermore welcomes
the decision that children in care will have a personal advisor
up to the age of 25, who will be able to give advice of how to
continue with further training or learning if so desired.
4.2 We are however concerned that the bursary
only applies to higher education and does not apply to further
education and non-academic choices, such as A-Levels, BTECS and
NVQs. As the Green Paper recognised, the educational achievements
of many young people leaving care are lower than the national
average, mainly due to the disruption they have experienced in
their lives. Young people who have experienced such disruption
deserve a chance to catch up with their peers, and should therefore
be supported to continue the education of their choice.
4.3 Another issue relating to educational
achievement is the proposal to introduce a "tick-box"
on university applications to identify children in care. Although
the intention is to identify people in need of further support,
this suggestion might not be welcomed by applicants who could
feel further stigmatised.
4.4 In its response to the Green Paper the
Foyer Federation recommended that DCSF should promote a programme
of early intervention around life skills and independent living
skills before young people leave care placements. We also recommended
that the White Paper should focus less on schools and FE colleges
as providers of life skills training, and that the voluntary sector
would be better placed to deliver a more suitable holistic approach.
4.5 We believe that the White Paper does
not highlight the voluntary sector's ability to provide a holistic
service to these service users. In our response to the Children,
Schools and Families Select Committee inquiry into the Children
and Young Person's Bill we called for a duty to be placed on local
authorities to provide young people leaving care with the necessary
life skills to succeed in independent living. Life skills provision
is at the heart of the Foyer ethos and our Certificate in Self-Development
through Learning is an accredited learning programme by City and
Guilds and, importantly, recognised by the Qualifications and
Curriculum Authority on the National Qualifications Framework.
4.6 The Foyer Federation believes that this
programme can be delivered to young people in care preparing them
for independent living, and could form part of a comprehensive
package of support that local authorities should be under a duty
to provide to young people in their care.
5.1 The Foyer Federation welcomes the White
Paper's focus on children in care's health and well-being, including
the increased focus on sex and relationship education, and free
part-time access to positive activities.
5.2 We also welcome the focus on increased
funding to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and
that statutory guidance will be issued to ensure CAMHS provide
targeted provision to children in care.
5.3 However, in the Green Paper response
we did raise concerns over the proposed compulsory screening for
substance misuse, as it would exacerbate the stigma of being in
6.1 The Foyer Federation was very positive
with any suggestions which focused on "stage not age"
and therefore backed the Government's proposal in the Green Paper
to expand the care system to 21.
6.2 A significant part of the transition
to adulthood is the role of suitable accommodation. The Foyer
Federation recommended that guaranteed revenue funding becomes
available for supported housing for a range of young people. Furthermore,
it was not seen as the best solution to provide accommodation
exclusively for care leavers. Instead they need to be integrated
into society and with other young people.
6.3 Therefore, the Foyer Federation supports
the indication in the White Paper that the Government does not
see care leavers as being in need of separate accommodation. The
Foyer model has already proven a successful supported housing
project for many vulnerable young people, including care leavers,
and we hope that the Government will recognise this and support
us in the future to develop our services even more.
6.4 Another significant part of a successful
transition to adulthood is the development of practical life skills,
as mentioned above.
6.5 In our response to this Select Committee's
inquiry into the Children and Young Person's Bill we recommended
that a duty be placed on local authorities to equip young people
in their care with the necessary life skills to succeed in independent
living and plan for provisions when young people are leaving care.
7.1 In our response to the Green Paper the
Foyer Federation suggested that it would be useful for young people
to have an opportunity to "wipe the slate clean" after
a certain period of time, as children in care tend to have more
problems with ASBOs and the police which can hinder their further
progression in life when trying to access accommodation and employment.
7.2 We believe that the White Paper has
not sufficiently addressed this issue, which could prove to be
a great barrier for children in care.
That the Government puts more emphasis
on partnership working with the voluntary sector, including the
sector's ability to work with vulnerable young people to develop
vital life skills training, and its ability to provide vital holistic
That the Government focuses not only
on family and parenting support, but also recognises the impact
peer mentoring can have on a young person's ability to remain
in the family home.
That consideration is given to the
fact that the bursary only applies to higher education, and excludes
further education and other non-academic choices. The bursary
should also be applicable to young people in care undertaking
or wishing to undertake further education or non-academic qualifications.
That a duty is placed on local authorities
to equip young people in their care with the necessary life skills
to succeed in independent living and plan for provisions when
young people are leaving care.
That children in care who have been
involved in the criminal justice system will be given a chance
to "wipe the slate clean".