Working together can help care leavers make transition

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In this age of austerity we are all having to tighten our belts and make tough decisions about what we spend our money on.

Local authorities are no exception and it’s clear that many are struggling with the need to slash their budgets while still maintaining decent levels of front line services.

In such challenging times it is vital that local authorities work both with each other and the voluntary sector to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are always protected.

One group of particularly vulnerable individuals are children leaving the care system. Barnardo’s released research recently which indicated that children leaving the care system are effectively being ‘set up to fail’ when making the transition to independent living.

The reality is that young people with no means of supporting themselves can be forced to move from the place they call home because their benefits will no longer cover the cost. This can be incredibly disruptive to the young person both practically and emotionally.

Our view is that children’s and housing services in local authorities should work much more closely together to tackle this. We are encouraging them to jointly commission services to help smooth the transition to independence for care leavers.

Our report also revealed that lack of contingency planning offered by local authority departments was having a detrimental impact on costs to the public purse, with some not offering help to young people at the earliest opportunity. This can result in care leavers continuing on a downward spiral and incurring greater costs to the state in the long run, due to the support needed.

To improve the long-term outlook for these young people, more emphasis needs to be placed on helping them to live alone successfully by choosing to jointly invest on preventing harm to this vulnerable group.

Javed Khan

Chief executive, Barnardo’s