Access all areas Northern Ireland

careleavers

 

 

 

Young people leaving care typically transition from care much earlier than their non-care experienced peers who are more likely to leave home in their mid to-late twenties. Many struggle on their journey towards becoming independent adults and continue to experience problems that lead to much poorer outcomes than the general population. They are often living with multiple and complex needs.

The Access All Areas (Northern Ireland) coalition engaged in a partnership exercise to identify key areas of concern and to make recommendations to aid care leavers’ journeys to successful independence.

The coalition worked to identify and agree six overarching recommendations to guide all government departments and their associated agencies in their role as corporate parents. Further recommendations are contained within four aftercare policy and practice areas:

housing, accommodation,
support; education, training and
employment; health and wellbeing; and youth justice.

The perspective taken was that all care leavers are potentially vulnerable but there are those with additional struggles and challenges who require further and concentrated efforts to be made on their behalf. Access All Areas (NI) challenges, supports and makes recommendations to ensure that the government fulfils its many care leavers duties as a corporate parent.

 

 

Reference:  Barnardo's. (2017). Access all areas Northern Ireland: Supporting corporate parents to improve young people’s journey from care to adulthood. Belfast: Barnardo’s NI

 

commentary

 

The six overarching recommendations from the report;

 

1. Deliver fully resourced statutory support for all care leavers to at least age 25: The state as a corporate parent has a moral and unique responsibility to ensure care leavers are appropriately supported through the transition from care into adulthood, to at least age 25. Policy and public services should provide the positive support that any good parent might give to ensure each child’s potential is reached and opportunities are maximised.

2. Care–proof all government policies: Corporate parents must recognise the vulnerability of care leavers and assess the impact that policy will have on them and those who support them. Care leaver’s experience of adversity, trauma and interrupted development may impact well into their adult lives. Corporate parents should therefore treat them as a ‘protected group’, with the potential impact of policy changes measured through Equality Impact Assessments.

3. Publish disaggregated data collection to age 25: The impact of actions has to be effectively measured and supported through improved data collection and data sharing between relevant government departments, statutory bodies and community and voluntary sector organisations.

4. Firmly establish care leaver ‘champions’: Retention of a lead departmental role with responsibility for implementation of policy and practice improvements for all care leavers. Strengthen the voice of young people further through the introduction of an All-Party Parliamentary Group for looked after children and care leavers.

5. Strengthen rights and participation: Government departments and agencies with responsibility for corporate parenting take a rights-based approach to delivering supports and services to care leavers throughout their journey in, from and aftercare. Make provision for the meaningful participation and engagement of care leavers by strengthening existing/or creating new forums to enable care leavers to influence policies, practice and services, which impact on their lives.

6. Ensure the needs of particularly vulnerable groups within the care leaver population are addressed: inter-alia care leavers with a disability, mental ill-health, care leavers who are young parents, homeless, in the justice system, in rural communities, unaccompanied separated young people, care leavers from minority groups and young people misusing substances.

 

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