New resources to support care leavers into learning and work to be published next year

3 October 2018

More than 70,000 children and young people across England are in care, recent data shows. And this number has been on the rise since 2008.

When moving to independent living and engaging with further education, employment and training, care leavers can experience a range of financial, practical and emotional challenges. Current statistics show that just 14% of care leavers achieve five ‘good’ GCSEs; 40% of care leavers between the ages of 17 and 19 are not in education, employment or training (NEET); and care leavers are four times as likely as their peers to be involved in the youth criminal justice system.

In 2017 the government introduced a £1000 funding uplift for employers and providers that take on a care leaver as an apprentice. However, take up for the additional funding is low, as is the number of care leavers entering apprenticeships. To directly help care leavers, who are more likely to suffer from financial hardship, the government has also recently launched a new £1000 bursary for apprentices who are care leavers.

Learning and Work Institute (L&W), supported by the Department for Education, is working with a range of stakeholders to explore care leavers’ barriers to education, employment and training, as well as employers’ incentives to take on care leavers as apprentices.

In 2019 L&W will publish two sets of resources aimed at supporting care leavers to access education, employment and training:

  • Guidance for foster carers and local authority personal advisors on how to best support care leavers to engage with education, employment and training
  • Information on how to access and use the £1000 uplift funding for employers and providers and the new £1000 bursary for care leavers

Nicola Aylward, head of learning for young people at Learning and Work Institute, commented:

“The statistics are shocking and clearly highlight that care leavers require better support to make positive transitions to adult life. As ‘corporate parents’ local authorities are responsible for putting support in place that enables care leavers to make informed choices about, and fully participate in, education, employment and training.

On a positive note, the past year has seen an increase in the number of care leavers staying in touch with their local authorities after leaving care and, since the introduction of ‘staying put’ arrangements in 2014, a significant proportion of care leavers staying with foster carers after their 18th birthdays. Therefore, it is crucial that local authority personal advisors and foster carers have clear guidance on how to support care leavers to stay in learning and employment.”

For more information on our work with care leavers and to find out how you can get involved visit our website or contact Nicola Aylward.

Learning and Work Institute is leading a commission to consider ways to improve education and employment opportunities for all young people. Find out more on our youth commission and how you can get involved on our website.