Support for care leavers - Briefing paper




This briefing paper outlines support for young people leaving local authority care. It's been updated for National Care Leavers' Week


This briefing paper provides general background on the development of Government policies to support care leavers, and the specific support available in terms of: social services; housing; education and training; health services; and the social security system.

This briefing paper mostly covers policy in England, but includes some information about support for care leavers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who are care leavers?

The focus of this paper is young people aged 16+ leaving local authority care. Support for younger children moving into and out of care, or leaving care through adoption or other routes, are not considered in detail in this report.

Outcomes for care leavers

In a July 2016 policy document, Keep on caring, the Department for Education noted that outcomes for care leavers were much worse than for their counterparts in the general population. Furthermore, the quality of leaving care services provided by local authorities was variable. Earlier, in 2015, the National Audit Office concluded that addressing the poor life outcomes of young people leaving care was “a longstanding problem” and that the cost of their not moving successfully into adulthood was high.

Government policy

The then-Government published its Care leaver strategy for England in October 2013. This identified several key areas where care leavers needed better (and more joined-up) support, including in education; employment; finance; health; housing; and the justice system. More recent developments have included:

In February 2018, the announcement of up to £5 million of funding for Social Impact Bond-backed projects for care leavers, targeted at Bristol, Sheffield and Lewisham.

The introduction, in August 2018, of a new Care Leavers’ Apprenticeship Bursary to provide extra financial support.

In October 2018, the launch of a new Care Leavers’ Covenant, which the Government hopes will support 10,000 work placements for care leavers over the next 10 years.

In October 2019, the Government promising £18 million to expand programmes to support care leavers, and create an additional 1,000 internships over the next two years.



Reference:  Roberts, N. Gheera, M. Harker, R. Jarrett, T. Kennedy, S. Powell, T. Wilson, W. (2019). Support for care leavers: Briefing paper. CBP/08429. London: HoC Library




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