Children Leaving Care
Young people between the ages of 16 and 21 who are in, or were in, the care of Somerset County Council on or after their 16th birthday are entitled to some form of support, advice or guidance.
Key figures for Somerset:
- Based on 2016 data, the local authority was ‘in touch’ with 97% of 19, 20 and 21 year old care leavers. The local authority was in touch with 100% of care leavers aged 17 and 18.
- Of the 260 former care leavers aged 19, 20 and 21 years old, 45% were in education, employment or training (compared to a national average of 49%).
- 52% former care leavers were not in employment, education or training (NEET), compared to 40% for England as a whole.
- In terms of accommodation, 90% of former care leavers aged 19, 20 or 21 years were in accommodation considered suitable (compared to 83% nationally), a further 7% were in accommodation considered unsuitable (in line with the national average). For 4%, the suitability of accommodation wasn’t known.
Needs and Difficulties experienced by Somerset Care Leavers
An exercise has been undertaken by the Leaving Care service to identify the level and types of need of care leavers to aid understanding and seek funding for improvements in services. A snapshot was taken by the four Area Leaving Care team leaders of those experiencing significant difficulties in a range of areas, to the extent that it impinged on their everyday lives.
The table below shows the number, and proportion of young care leavers reporting significant needs in 2013 and in 2015
Self-identified areas of concern for Somerset Care Leavers, 2013 and 2015
|Total no. of young people (YP)
|Number of YP with Difficulties
|Mental health problems
|Violent behaviour - risk to others
|Pregnant/parent (where there are CP concerns)
|Domestic Violence (victim)
|Sexual abuse (victim)
|Sexually aggressive (harmful behaviour to others)
|Domestic Violence (perpetrator)
Note: in 2015, there were 53 young people unable to be contacted
The highest single category reported is emotional issues which, at 23%, is concerning but decreasing. The issue of substance misuse has also declined sharply, in terms of both Alcohol and Drugs. Similarly, Offending has shown a fall.
About half of care leavers are parents, more than half of whom have either had children removed or have safeguarding concerns regarding their children. It is thought that many of these parents may go on to have further children to ‘replace’ those who have been taken away. The leaving care cohort might benefit from parenting advice, in pre-pregnancy, in pre-birth assessments and in early years services such as health visitors.
Housing care leavers
The majority of care leavers are resident in the major towns of Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil, although some also leave for larger towns outside the county.
Discussions with groups of young people to support a 2015 P2i Needs Analysis identified the following housing concerns: ‘These young people are concerned about managing their finances, understanding their responsibilities, loneliness and keeping themselves safe. Generally they would like to live in shared accommodation with people they know and trust or return to live with their families or move into an independent flat. They would like information and advice on managing their finances, independent living skills (such as cooking), accessing employment, tenancy issues and access to good quality accommodation with good landlords.’
The table below shows how many moves were experienced by Care Leavers on the caseload within the two-year period ending March 2015. Half the young people had no more than one move. However over a third moved at least three times. The median number of moves was two.
Accommodation moves for young people on the Leaving Care caseload between April 2013 and March 2015
|Number of moves
||Percentage of total
|Three to five
|Six to ten
|Eleven or more
There were nine Care Leavers who were of no fixed address and/or homeless on 31 March 2015.