Into independence, not out of care: 16 plus care options - Education Committee Contents

7  Conclusion

109. Looked after young people face many disadvantages throughout their childhoods, yet too much is expected from them too soon in their transition to adulthood and independence. The troubling and disruptive events that lead to a child or young person becoming looked after have significant and long-lasting effects, not least on their vulnerability as a care leaver, and can leave them less well-prepared to cope with independence. This relative disadvantage is exacerbated by the inconsistent levels of support available to care leavers as they move into adulthood and embark upon more independent living.

110. Our concerns before this inquiry have, if anything, increased throughout it. The suitability and safety of 'other arrangements' must be improved. Differentiating their governance from that for other placements in which looked after young people are housed is an anomaly that demonstrates an insufficient understanding of the vulnerability of the young people concerned. The current Staying Put policy discriminates against looked after young people not living in foster care. The DfE's arguments against extending Staying Put to all looked after young people failed to convince us.

111. The Minister told us, "I remain determined to continue to push the boundaries wherever they need to go […] to make sure that children themselves get what they deserve".[206] Our report outlines where those boundaries need to be pushed in the final years of care: much more can, and should, be done to prepare and plan better for a gradual transition to independence, to develop and sustain the relationships that matter the most, to ensure the safety and suitability of the homes in which young people live, and to be responsive to an individual's need, rather than reactive to their age.

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Prepared 17 July 2014