Support for children who leave care should be extended until they are 25 years old, the Children’s Commissioner for England has said.
Her claim followed the publication of a national survey of almost 3,000 young people which revealed that around a third believed they had left care before they were ready to do so. More than half the respondents also said they did not understand why they had been placed into care to begin with.
The results could mean that as many as 35,000 young people across the country do not understand why they are in care. The Children’s Commissioner for England estimates that there are roughly 69,000 children in care at any one time and that around 98,000 will experience the care system over the course of a single year.
Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said that “there a number of things that would make [care leavers’] lives much better” but it was “unacceptable that some are not in place already”.
She made a number of recommendations. These included a guarantee that every child in care should have “at least one continuing and consistent relationship with an adult” and that a child’s views should be “systematically sought and taken into account in all decisions made about them”.
There was also evidence of positive experiences in care. In fact, 81 per cent of respondents believed they were living in the right place.
The survey was developed in partnership with the University of Nottingham School of Sociology and Social Policy. It launched in November 2014 and ran until February. During that time, 2936 people responded. Of these, 48 per cent were between eight and 14 years old, 42 per cent were aged 15 to 19, and just over nine per cent were 20 to 24 years old.