The main messages from care leavers this year were that nearly half of those surveyed felt they left care too early and were not prepared well enough to leave. In total, 46% of care leavers thought they were made to leave care too early.
As well as this, 49% thought they had been prepared badly or very badly. Typically young people leave home at around 24 years old, but some care leavers in our survey were leaving care as young as 16. One care leaver quoted in the report said, “As a 16 year old I have gone from a children’s home to a women’s refuge. I have gone from having lots of support to having none.”
Looking at the survey report findings many care leavers said they wanted help with money and practical support as well as learning about how to obtain and use their important documents such as passports, birth certificates and national insurance card. One care leaver complained about not being able to get a job due to not having their national insurance number.
Children’s Rights Director Dr Roger Morgan said:
Not being prepared to leave care and being made to leave too early were themes that came up again and again in our consultation. Young people telling us about their experiences of leaving care have mentioned that loneliness is something that many are struggling to cope with. Having spent years living with others in care, many now feel as though they have moved to a life of isolation and limited support. It was interesting to hear that one care leaver commented that it might be better to leave care in stages rather than so abruptly.
On a positive note it is encouraging that 61% of care leavers felt their lives had been made better as a result of being in care. It is worrying equally that many felt they were treated so differently by society that they kept the fact they were in care a secret. Overall, half of the care leavers told us they sometimes, often or always kept it a secret that they were in care. It is worrying that in this day and age, care leavers feel they have to hide this.
More positively the report found that a majority of care leavers who reported change in the care system during their life in care thought that care had improved.
Notes to editors
The After care report can be found online and the Ofsted website. The report gives the views of 308 care leavers who completed the monitoring survey online. The young people came from 34 different local authority areas in England. They had mostly left care; although some were still young people in care or being ‘accommodated’ in a placement by their local authority who were preparing to leave care.
The Children’s Rights Director for England has independent statutory duties to ascertain and report the views of children living away from home or in care, to advise on children’s rights and welfare, and to raise matters he considers significant to the rights or welfare of the children in his remit.