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Developing Skills for Independent Living

The challenge for care leavers

The average age for a young person to leave their family home is now 25. Care leavers by contrast are supported by the state until age 18*, when they are expected to transition to adult life.

There are some very sobering statistics which highlight the challenges facing young people leaving care – here are just two:

  • 6% of care leavers were in higher education compared with one-third of all 19 year olds, in 2015
  • 41% of care leavers were not in education, employment or training in 2013-14 compared with 15% of all 19-year-olds

Source: National Audit Office/DfE: 2015  ‘Care leavers’ transition to adulthood’

At Five Rivers we help young care leavers prepare for independence in practical ways. Recently, three of our regional services got together to offer a group of 16 – 18 year olds a brilliant opportunity to learn new skills while enjoying a camp environment away from home.

The weekend included a packed agenda

  • Young People Rights and Citizenship;
  • Sexual Health Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG);
  • Drugs and Alcohol IAG;
  • First Aid Training;
  • Cash Pointers Project – 16-25
  • Independent People IAG;
  • Anybody Can Cook cooking session.

Leaving care is tough but our fostered children and young people are turning their lives around every day, and many are staying close to their foster families and continue to benefit from their emotional support. Here are some comments from the participants:

  • “Fostering for me is having great opportunities that you can’t always have at home, also having people who love for you like their own children”
  • “Fostering means I have been able to change my life, believe in myself and been able to feel and give love.”
  • “Fostering is about having opportunities, experiences and challenges which may not have been possible otherwise and having the chance to form new relationships”

The weekend was deemed a great success and we are looking to roll out similar opportunities to all our regional fostering services.

*NB At Five Rivers we welcome the government’s initiative ‘Staying Put’ to improve support for care leavers: we have been devising new ways to support our care leavers to age 25-plus and are working with local authorities to improve services.



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