Care leavers 'left vulnerable by lack of financial knowledge'

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Care leavers 'left vulnerable by lack of financial knowledge'

Many care leavers don’t know how to pay bills, manage their money, are unable to open a bank account and don’t know how to plan financially for the future, according to a report.

This has left vulnerable young people unprepared for the realities of adult life and has increased their risk of falling into debt and becoming homeless.

The Children’s Society report ‘The cost of being care-free’ said last year 10,830 people aged 16 and over left the care of their local authority and began the difficult transition out of care and into adulthood.

While care leavers will have received some level of support from their personal advisor, the research found that the support they did receive was not always enough to help them confidently manage their finances.

According to the report, almost half of local authorities in England fail to offer care leavers financial education support and debt advice. Many care leavers only receive financial advice once the situation has reached crisis point.

“Such dangerous financial situations could be prevented through financial education and advice,” the report says.

The report adds: "For those who grow up with their family, making the move into independent living is normally accompanied by ongoing support – help with managing new bills and payments, and often a financial safety net to fall back on if things go wrong.

"Care leavers make the move into independent living without a family to fall back on. This makes it crucial that the financial support and money management skills they receive, both during and upon leaving care, are able to provide the safety net that they need."

ASDAN has developed a new Short Course aiming to help care leavers live independently and make a successful transition from school education to adulthood. It has a significant financial focus with modules including earning and spending money, keeping track of your money and making financial choices. Other modules relate to career management, being at work, cooking and housing.

The course, which will be launched this term, has been piloted with looked-after children at Bristol City and North Somerset Councils, along with The Boulevard Centre, Hull. Initial evaluation shows the course has been well received by care leavers and foster carers who are supporting the young people through the course.

For further information on the course, please contact Simon Lawrence, ASDAN Development Co-ordinator, at simonlawrence@asdan.org.uk  

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