Show you care this Care Leavers Week
Today marks the start of National Care Leavers Week 2023.
We believe that all children in the care system should have safe and loving homes and receive care where they live until at least age 18.
You can play a vital role in speaking up for the rights of children in care.
Send a letter to your local MP asking them to advocate for a care system where all children are cared for in just a few minutes by visiting: https://secure.togethertrust.org.uk/care
A split care system
Between 2009 and 2019, the percentage of young people living in careless (also known as semi-independent) settings increased by 210%.
Last year, the government banned children aged 15 and under from living in careless settings. This ban has not been extended to 16- and 17-year-olds, despite 34 children dying while living in these places over the last six year period.
The care system is split in two. Children aged 15 and below are entitled to regulated care, while children aged 16 and 17 are not. We believe all children in care deserve the same love, stability and safety a family would provide.
Safeguarding risks & dilution of children’s rights
The prevailing rationale for careless accommodation is that some children are ‘ready for independence’ at a young age. Yet we know of children living in a bedsit who should be living in foster care or children’s residential care, because it’s the only available placement in their area.
In careless settings, children can live in a shared environment with adults without staff present – this is a major safeguarding risk. Despite the ban, children under the age of 16 are occasionally placed in careless settings. Recently a local Council illegally sent a 13 year old boy to live in a static caravan 200 miles from family (Mirror, 2023).
Based on our research, over 3,200 16- and 17-year-olds living in careless settings were not in education, employment, or training (NEET) between 2019 and 2020.
Back in 2021, Marie spoke to us about her time in unregulated accommodation before moving to the Together Trust.
“I was in and out of emergency placements because they couldn’t find anywhere for me, so my social worker took me to a caravan, which was called a crisis placement. She said I would be there for 28 days, but I was there for 12 weeks and 3 days. The whole time I didn’t see any of my friends. I didn’t go to school. I didn’t see anyone.
I faced pressure from the local authority to move into semi-independent accommodation when I was coming up to my 17th birthday. This was in the middle of the pandemic and at a time when I didn’t have a support network. I knew I wasn’t ready and thankfully the staff at Together Trust supported me to challenge it.
We’re taken off our parents and we're supposed to be cared for but it feels like they’re avoiding that responsibility when they try to put us in unregulated accommodation. It’s like they think we can just fend for ourselves and it’s not right.
Moving into a flat on your own at 16 or 17 when you don’t know anything about living on your own can be really hard. Especially if you don’t have anyone you can turn to for help.”