The need for advocacy was reinforced last week in a report issued by Ofsted, which found that most care leavers felt that they left care too early and were unaware of what they were legally entitled to and what rights they had.
‘Ready or Not: Care Leavers’ Views of Preparing to Leave Care’, demonstrates the worrying lack of choice many care leavers experienced once they had left the care system. As well as experiencing a ‘cliff edge’ to care, the report demonstrated the lack of information care leavers had about advocacy, with less than half of care leavers being told how to access advocacy services.
The report shows that “Many care leavers felt ‘alone’ or ‘isolated’ when they left care and did not know where to get help with their mental health or emotional well-being. Many care leavers had no one they could talk to about how they were feeling or who would look out for them. A third of care leavers told us they did not know where to get help and support. For many, no plans had been made to support their mental health or emotional well-being when they left care.”
It also showed that “a similar proportion reported being told how to complain and even fewer were told how to get advocacy support. Care leavers (or their carers) who had engaged advocacy services had found this help to be vital.”
These findings also chimed with messages from ‘What Makes Life Good’ a report released last year by our Bright Spots programme, exploring the well-being of over 1,800 care leavers. ‘What Makes Life Good’ also highlighted the cliff edge to care, with care leavers doing worse than children in care in a range of areas? It also found that too many care leavers report not feeling safe where they live and not coping financially.
These reports demonstrate the need for simple and quick routes to advocacy for all care leavers and children and young people in care. Through our Always Heard helpline, Coram Voice supports thousands of care leavers each year to know their rights and to be given a voice on things that matter to them. We believe every care leaver and care experienced child or young person should have access to advocacy and should know how to contact an advocate in order to know their rights and be supported through any challenges they may face as they move into adulthood.
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice said: “The Ofsted report; ‘Ready or Not: Care Leavers’ Views of Preparing to Leave Care’ once again demonstrates the importance of the advocacy work we do at Coram Voice. It is vital care leavers are informed about advocacy and know they can get this support when they leave care.
“Further more, in-line with our ‘What Makes Life Good’ Bright Spots report, this Ofsted report also demonstrates the need to address the cliff edge of care and create ways to help care leavers transition more easily into adulthood with all the support a non-care leaver would have access to.”