UK & World News

  • 17 July 2014, 6:15

Young People Leaving Care 'At Risk', Say MPs

Thousands of young people are at risk of being failed by the system when they leave care, according to damning findings by MPs.

A new report by the education select committee has found some teenagers were being forced out of placements before they were ready to live alone, while others were being placed into unsuitable accommodation

MPs also concluded the use of B&Bs for vulnerable young people should be banned.

Committee chair Graham Stuart said: "These are very vulnerable young people - there is no support from them in these places.

"The Government should consult on a regulatory regime to ensure they are safe. If you look at foster care, school, colleges - all other areas inspected to ensure they're safe.

"But all too often 16 or 17-year-olds who have often experienced abuse are put into accommodation with no regulatory oversight."

The criticisms come amid growing concern about young people leaving care.

Of the adult prison population, 24% have spent some time in care, whilst around a quarter of those sleeping rough have a background in care.

About twice as many care leavers are not in education, employment or training (NEET) as other young people, and care leavers are more than four times more likely to commit suicide in adulthood.

One young person, who turns 18 next year, told Sky News anxiety about the change was a daily issue, and he felt he was being forced to move before he was ready.

Joe, who is being helped by charity Catch 22, said: "Going from being in a looked-after placement where you're surrounded by staff and young people, and being surrounded by people to being on your own in a flat, it's quite a significant change.

"It's a daily thing I think about, about moving on when I'm 18. It's quite a scary thing to think about really."

Another, 20-year-old Amanda (not her real name), said she had been in eight different placements in four years from the age of 16. 

She told Sky News some placements were so unsuitable they affected her mental health and attempts to gain qualifications in college.

The Government said it had improved arrangements for young people leaving care, and was working to do more.

The Department for Education said in a statement: "We have significantly improved the support on offer to young people leaving care.

"It is our priority to improve the quality of residential care and we have set out our plans to do this."

The Local Government Association said local authorities did take their responsibilities toward young people seriously, but that emergency accommodation such as B&Bs was sometimes necessary.

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