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Staying put to move forward

Monday 26 October 2015

Leaving home is a big deal in any young person's life, but for some, heading out into adulthood happens when they are far too young. 

Did you know that in Scotland, the average age of leaving care is between 16-18 years old, but the average age to leave a family home is about 25? You could say that the underlying societal implication is that young people do not reach full adulthood until the age of 25. Yet for looked after young people and care leavers we seem to accept, and in some cases expect, that this life-changing transition happens in a much more accelerated and abrupt way.


Independent living

It's well-documented that outcomes for care leavers remain lower than they are for the rest of the population. These poorer outcomes include lower educational attainment, higher risk of homelessness, economic disadvantage and ill health. And let's be clear, these two factors – poorer outcomes, and accelerated transitions - are intrinsically linked. But we can make positive changes towards brighter futures. Research tells us that the single most important factor for improving outcomes for looked after young people and care leavers is increasing the age and the way they leave care. At CELCIS, we believe that concerted action must be taken to change both culture and practice, and that it becomes unacceptable to expect looked after young people to move into independent living before they are ready.

Staying put

Children and young people are placed in care for a variety of reasons - for many this will have involved being exposed to a range of negative and damaging experiences. Abuse, neglect, flawed attachment, instability and insecurity, unresolved childhood trauma and delayed development - the culmination of pre-care and in-care experience - all have a long-lasting or life-long impact. Yet, too often we expect looked after young people and care leavers to make the move from care to independence, from childhood to adulthood, when they are least ready or able to take these massive steps. Continued aftercare support, based on positive relationships which transcend role, setting and boundary into adulthood, is critical to improving outcomes for care leavers. But the real key to closing the outcomes gap for care leavers means making sure that they get the opportunity to stay put longer, and that staying put and continuing care become the 'new norm'. 

Better futures

Young people who stay put for longer in positive care placements benefit from the stability and security that it offers, and ultimately enjoy better outcomes in terms of education, employment and health. That is why CELCIS fully embraces the principles which underpin the Staying Put Scotland agenda; and are fully committed to working in partnership with all corporate parents and other key stakeholders to fully implement Part 11 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 which gives looked after young people the right to request Continuing Care up to the age of 21. We will work in partnership with all stakeholders to support the full implementation of this key provision, and to encourage, enable and empower all young people to exercise their right to stay put for longer, and as a result, be better prepared for the future.

The Scottish Care Leavers Covenant

Have you heard about the ground-breaking Scottish Care Leavers Covenant which is how we're driving forward change? We're part of an Alliance of organisations who are asking corporate parents and everyone with a role to play in the lives of care leavers, to take a bold step and sign up to improve the lives and opportunities of young people leaving care. This 'Agenda for Change' could transform the way care leavers are supported and will help to make the new Act real.

Author: Kenny McGhee

Please add a comment

Posted by Mike Rodden on
Forza Kenny! Well put and we need to keep this high on our agenda.
Posted by Nabu White on
Hi Kenny. I was wondering if you could shed some light on a matter regarding the through care/continuing care provision. I have recently been informed that any care provider for a young person beyond 18 will need to be registered as adult service providers. As I work in a independent fostering project who has no intentions of registering as a adult service, what are the implications for young people beyond 18 in these placements.
Posted by Kenny McGhee on
Hi Nabu
Thanks for raising this question. You are correct in stating that current advice is care providers need to be registered as adult service when caring for young people beyond 18, this is already the case where foster carers transition to supported carers in order to provide 'Staying Put' or 'Continuing Care' arrangements.

The implications are fairly straightforward I'm afraid, meaning that a young person would be unable to remain in that care setting or placement. The Act states clearly that the duty to provide Continuing Care does not apply if
'...the accommodation the person was in immediately before ceasing to be looked after was a care placement and the carer has indicated to the authority that the carer is unable or unwilling to continue to provide the
placement...' (Part 11, 67(5)(b). The carer would deem themselves unable or unwilling by the fact they chose not to register as an adult provider to enable Staying Put/Continuing Care.

In this case the local authority would have a duty to provide an equivalent level of care to the young person requesting Continuing Care, meaning the same (type) of accommodation and other assistance as was provided for them prior to them ceasing to be looked after.

The practice challenges for some will be fairly significant and it's likely that there will be a steep learning curve in terms of problem-solving these issues to ensure that young people don't lose out.

Happy to chat this over in more detail, give me a call at CELCIS if you want to discuss further.

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