Who are care leavers?

Care leavers are young people aged over 16 who have been in local authority care, some for all of their childhood, and have subsequently left the care system or are in the process of doing so.

Facts and figures

  • There are around 70,000 children in care in England at any one time, which is the equivalent of 0.6% of all children.
  • Every year, around 10,000 16-18 year olds leave foster or residential care in England.
  • Many young people leaving care face serious disadvantage in their lives, compared to their peers.

Infographic showing the disadvantage faced by care leavers

What are we doing to improve care leavers' lives?

  • We research what works for care leavers in different contexts.
  • We work with policy makers and campaign for change for care leavers.
  • We produce free resources for care leavers and the staff and organisations who support them.

We worked with care leavers to develop the Inspire Me! app, which enables former care leavers who are now living independently and learning or working, to share their positive stories. The app is available for free download on all devices from the app store and iTunes.

Our Skills Support for Care Leavers website has a wealth of information on the different learning, training and employment options available to care leavers in England. It aims to help care leavers make decisions about education and work, and find out what support they can get along the way.


Why are care leavers important to us?

We believe that we all have a responsibility to enable care leavers, many of whom have had very difficult experiences as children, to have excellent opportunities as they make the transition into independent adult life. Having appropriate support to access meaningful education, training and work opportunities can be key for care leavers to achieve their goals and ambitions in life.