New guidance published today (12 November 2019) provides recommendations to improve support for care leavers at risk of becoming homeless.
The guidance aims to fully support existing legislation, ensure that care leavers who do experience homelessness can rapidly access tailored support, and changing the policy and culture, including shared responsibility between corporate parents to make sure young people leaving care are prepared and supported through their transition into adulthood and beyond.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:
"This report provides an excellent set of recommendations that provides tangible guidance and solutions to the problems care leavers face finding and keeping a home.
"Young people leaving care are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and we should take all actions possible to prevent them from ever becoming homeless.
"It's vital housing and children's services work seamlessly with wider support services to ensure young people's needs are met.
"We will ensure that we meet the ambitions set out in this report to improve young people's housing outcomes."
A multi-agency working group, which includes local authorities, health and social care partnerships, the DWP, homeless organisations and children's charities, was chaired by CELCIS and co-ordinated by the A Way Home Scotland coalition produced the report, which contains key recommendations to make support for care leavers more consistent across Scotland.
Tam Baillie, former Children and Young People Commissioner for Scotland, chair of the 'A Way Home Scotland Coalition' said:
"No young person should be homeless and that particularly applies to care experienced young people for whom we have additional responsibilities with legal requirements.
"No parent wants their child to experience homelessness and so it should be for our children in care. We can and should deliver the very best start to their adult life and they have a right to expect we live up to our obligations. Time to make the step-change, here and now."
Kate Polson from Rock Trust added:
"Scotland has a history of progressive policy and legislation in relation to housing, homelessness and our care system. The recommendations in this report highlight how we implement all of this guidance to prevent young people from entering homelessness."
Kenny McGhee, Throughcare and Aftercare Lead at CELCIS said:
"This report explicitly recognises the link between leaving care at too young an age without the appropriate ongoing support and an increased risk of homelessness. Fully implementing the actions and recommendations from the report will help Scotland's corporate parents close the gap between positive policy intentions and everyday practice, and ensure that no young person moving on from care risks homelessness."
Research consistently highlights that care leavers are more likely than other young people to become homeless or experience housing instability. These young people continue to leave care at an earlier age, with less preparation, and less support than young people leaving home without care experience, and often before they are ready. These factors combine disproportionally to increase the risk and occurrence of homelessness for care leavers.
The guidance sets out specific actions, such as better implementation of existing legislation, which if carried out will support the full implementation and consistent delivery of relevant parts of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 LINK, in particular Part 9: Corporate Parenting, Part 10: Aftercare, and Part 11: Continuing Care.