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Care Leavers Strategy lauched by Edward Timpson

Children’s minister Edward Timpson, launched the care leavers strategy at the annual National Care Leavers’ Week Conference.

In total, the strategy contains 24 action points including pledges that:

• the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will publish a guide to the further education and skills system for care leavers and those that work with them;

• the DfE will strengthen statutory guidance about local authority duties to support care leavers aged between 21 and 24 who wish to return to education or training;

• the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will introduce a “marker” on forms and databases so members of staff at organisations such as the Jobcentre Plus can identify care leavers and give them the support they are entitled to;

• the DWP will also allow care leavers to make a claim to the new Universal Credit welfare system in advance of leaving care and provide personal budgeting support;

• the DfE will amend statutory guidance to encourage all local authorities to pay at least £2,000 as part of their Setting Up Home Allowance (leaving care grant);

• the Department for Communities and Local Government will issue new statutory guidance on social housing to prioritise vulnerable people, including care leavers;

• the Ministry of Justice will develop ways of identifying care leavers in adult services in custody and the community to ensure they receive the right support.

As part of the strategy, the DfE has said it will continue to encourage all local authorities to pay at least £2,000 to young people leaving care, which can be used to pay for a deposit on a flat or train fares to a job interview.

Speaking at the National Care Leaver Week annual conference, Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said:

“Although most children leave care having had positive experiences, it’s simply not acceptable that they end up with significantly worse exam results; are more likely to have poorer mental and physical health; or be unemployed or out of education altogether. That makes quality of support - and consistency of support - absolutely essential. They deserve nothing less. If care leavers get patchy services, they are more likely to slip through the cracks.

We want care leavers to enter adult life with the same opportunities and life chances as their friends. If someone needs a helping hand to get into work, to find a college place or to access the right employment services, it shouldn’t matter which part of government provides it.

For the first time ever, our care leaver strategy will ensure that all government action across every department - from justice to housing, education to finance - is working with one single, united purpose to improve the lives of these vulnerable young people.”

The strategy and further information is available from: http://www.gov.uk/