Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced new cross-government support for young people leaving care.
Support will include £10m to create stable homes for care leavers as they become adults; £6m to support independent living and £3m to support further education.
The new funding measures will be complimented by a commitment to delivering 1,000 internships over the next two years to help secure long-term, quality jobs for care leavers.
This will include expanding the existing Civil Service Internship Scheme which has offered permanent jobs to hundreds of young people leaving care including roles in the NHS, Ministry of Defence civilian roles, Police and the Fire Service. Almost 40% of care leavers aged 19-21 are deemed ‘not in employment or education’ (NEET) compared to 13% for this age group overall.
A new ministerial group will be set up, chaired by the Education Secretary and the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and comprising of Secretaries of State from relevant government departments. They will meet three times a year to address key barriers facing care leavers as they adjust to independence. The group will also look at how councils can be supported to employ adolescent mental health workers in every leaving care team across the country.
Ian Dickson, Chair of the Conference for Care Experienced People which met with Mr. Williamson on Monday said;
”The Education Secretary reflected that our commitment to ‘care experienced’ people should be a lifelong one – similar to the commitment we make towards members of our Armed Forces. Care experience is a continuous lifetime experience bringing different needs at different stages that may not accord with the statutory definition of care and leaving care. Care does not end at 18, 21 or 25.”
SUMMARY OF FUNDING PACKAGE ANNOUNCEMENTS
- £10m – expanding ‘Staying Put’ to help more care leavers continue living with their foster families until 21
- £6m – roll out ‘Staying Close’ across the country (2021/22) to help young people leaving residential care to continue receiving support from previous carers they know and trust
- £3m – extend Pupil Premium Plus to all 16 to 18-year-old care leavers to help increase chances of them completing their chosen course
The announcement of these new support measures has been warmly received by professionals working with children in care. Their implementation will be closely followed over the next 18-24 months, with the hope that outcomes for care leavers are significantly improved.
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