In Scotland, the average age for leaving care is between 16 and 18 years old, but the average age for leaving home is 25. We believe that too many young care leavers are expected to be able to cope, whether or not they're ready for the 'outside world', simply because they have reached an age where it is expected they will move on.
We know that care leavers make smoother transitions into independent living when they have been settled in secure, stable care for as long as they need it. And when they are properly supported as they prepare to take those big steps forward into adult life.
A new norm for care leavers
Our throughcare and aftercare work aims to increase understanding that leaving care is a life event for looked after young people, not just a bureaucratic exercise. We believe that services and systems need to be designed and implemented which reflect the milestone that is leaving care.
To achieve this end, our Throughcare and aftercare team is encouraging and championing the development of a new norm for care leavers. We work across the country to support all corporate parents to create and implement strategies, policies and practices which provide long-term positive placements and extended support for care leavers.
Closing the care leaving gap
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will contribute greatly to achieving this new norm, and will actively help close the gap between care leavers and their peers.
To back up the legislative objectives of the Act, the Throughcare and aftercare team works on the ground alongside the carers, agencies and practitioners who deliver services for care leavers, and care leavers themselves to share their experience. We work with them to share good practice. We provide training and learning about the benefits of extended care and consistent relationships. And we support our partners to successfully implement these long-term positive placements as part of our vision for this new norm.