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Funding for councils to support care leavers

A £51m funding boost to help vulnerable young people in the care system, and proposals to improve the quality of their accommodation, have been announced by education secretary Gavin Williamson.

Education bosses say the support package will fund a range of schemes to support those that are either in or leaving care, as well as proposals to introduce national standards that accommodation settings for 16- and 17-year-olds would have to meet.

These programmes include:

  • £33 million continued investment in ‘Staying Put’, which helps looked after children stay with their foster carers after their 18th birthday if they wish to;
  • £3.6 million to extend the ‘Staying Close’ pilot which gives extra support for young people leaving residential care, and £12m for councils to continue to provide Personal Advisors to support care leavers up to the age of 25; and
  • £2.7 million to provide intensive support to care leavers at high risk of homelessness, as part of the Government’s Rough Sleeping strategy.

A consultation has also launched proposing national standards that all unregulated settings accommodating 16- and 17-year-old children in and leaving care would have to meet, to boost quality and ensure consistency of provision across the country.

Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at youth homeless charity Centrepoint, said: ‘To end youth homelessness for good we need to tackle the causes and not just help young people at a time of crisis.

‘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 advisor or rapid support if they find themselves with no roof over their head.

‘Taken together with the recent exempt from the shared accommodation rate, this is a real step forward for care leavers.’

The Department for Education has also announced plans 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.

The consultation on national standards, which will run for eight weeks until 19 July, will consider the views of children in care, care leavers, councils and experts and leaders in the sector to raise the bar for so-called unregulated provision.

These are independent or semi-independent settings offering supported accommodation which are not inspected by Ofsted.

The proposals aim to ensure provision is high quality, providing support and accommodation for older children in or leaving care who are ready to develop their independence in preparation for adult life.

The consultation will seek views on how Ofsted should regulate the quality of that support and accommodation for 16 and 17-year-olds and intervene where necessary.

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 being announced today 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.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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