Young people leaving care need access to structured programme of support

Young people leaving care need access to structured programme of support
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Without family guidance, looked-after children often struggle to manage their finances when they leave care. That’s why practical financial education is key to helping these young people access meaningful opportunities in education, work and training, writes Simon Lawrence, ASDAN Development Manager.

We welcome the announcement by the Department for Education in May that care leavers who choose to start an apprenticeship in England will receive a £1,000 bursary to support their transition into the workplace.

With the aim of making apprenticeships a more viable option for care leavers, the bursary will be paid once to each care leaver aged 16 to 24 when they start an apprenticeship after 1 August 2018. This comes in addition to the £1,000 the government provides to employers and training providers when they take on 16 to 18-year-olds or 19 to 24-year-olds who were in care or who have an education, health and care plan.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, which called on the government to offer the bursary, provided a reminder of the obstacles faced by care leavers.

“It can be hugely difficult for children leaving care to manage their finances for the first time without the family support enjoyed by other young people and they are more likely than their peers to not be in education, employment and training (NEET).

“Care leavers have told us how they have struggled to make ends meet and pay the bills after taking up an apprenticeship on low rates of pay when they cannot rely on additional support from parents such as being able to continue living in the family home.”

Practical financial education

While the bursary will no doubt provide much needed support for care leavers entering apprenticeships, we believe it should be combined with practical financial education enabling young people to manage their money effectively. We know from research that many care leavers find it difficult to pay bills or open a bank account and often they don’t know how to plan financially for the future.

As a charity that aims to transform the life chances of young people through learning, ASDAN is supporting care leavers through our Living Independently Short Course. The programme, which accredits 10 to 60 hours of activities, contains engaging challenges to develop young people’s financial skills and knowledge, with modules entitled:

  • Earning and spending money
  • Keeping track of your money
  • Making financial choices

The course also supports care leavers in other important areas of their life that are key to making a successful transition from education to adulthood. These include health and wellbeing, cooking on a budget, finding suitable housing and preparing for the world of work. The course can be undertaken by care leavers while they do their apprenticeship, or at school or college.

Supporting vulnerable young people

In its publication ‘The really useful book of learning and earning for care leavers’, the Learning and Work Institute references Living Independently as a course that can provide support to care leavers.

The Institute has also welcomed the apprenticeships bursary for care leavers in an article that contained startling statistics on the challenges these young people face:

  • in 2016, only 14% of children in care gained five good GCSEs, compared to 53% of all young people
  • care leavers are almost three times as likely as other young people to be in the NEET category
  • looked-after young people are almost twice as likely to be permanently excluded from school
  • Only 1 in 14 care leavers go to university, compared to half of all young people

The Institute said ‘appropriate support’ needs to be available to help care leavers access meaningful education, training and work opportunities. One way of providing this support is to ensure there is a structured programme in place, helping care leavers develop the skills and knowledge they need to thrive after leaving school, whatever their destination.

Please visit our Living Independently Short Course web page for more information on this programme and to download a free sample copy of the student book.

For any enquiries, please email simonlawrence@asdan.org.uk

Author: Simon Lawrence, ASDAN Development Manager

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