‘What Makes Life Good, Care leavers’ Views on their Well-being’, published by Coram Voice in collaboration with The Rees Centre and released today (25 November 2020) has shown significant differences in the experience of care leavers between local authorities in England.
It found disparity in the percentage of care leavers with low well being ranged from 14% to 44% by local authority. Similarly, in one authority, half of young people did not always feel safe in their home, in contrast to another local authority where the same was true for only one in five.
The report is the first of its kind in examining the well being of care leavers from their perspective and enabling comparisons across local authorities by analysing 1,804 care leaver responses collected between 2017 and 2019.
Findings also showed that:
- Care leavers did worse than the general population on a range of measures.
- There was a steep decline in well-being after young people left care.
- Care leavers who reported that they had a disability or long-term health problem were particularly vulnerable.
- Overall, although a majority of care leavers had moderate to high well-being, 30% had low well being. Our analysis identified the 10 key factors associated well-being.
- The care system can get it right. We can learn from the positive experiences of those with high well-being.
- Many young people were especially positive about the support they received from their leaving care personal advisers (PAs).
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice, said: “Our What Makes Life Good report firmly puts the voices of young people leaving care centre stage by understanding from their experiences, what makes life good. Our aspirations for young people leaving care should be the same as for our own children; that they thrive and grow to become confident young adults able to find their way in the world.
“To achieve this, we need to understand what is important to them; what they love doing, their hopes and feelings and what could make things better. What Makes Life Good does this, and through this unique insight into young care leavers’ subjective well-being, provides clear recommendations for policy and practice to make life better for young people leaving care so they can flourish into adulthood.”
This research highlights the importance of understanding how care leavers themselves feel about their lives. Understanding the factors that can improve care leavers’ well being is essential to delivering high quality services and support, instead of basing it purely on objective measures and professional assessments such as whether care leavers are in education and employment.
Key recommendations for local authorities, guided by factors that care leavers have identified, include:
- Improving connections, building trusting relationships and addressing loneliness
- Providing emotional and mental health support to address stress, negativity and help care leavers feel good about their future
- Providing money management and financial support to help care leavers cope financially
- Improving accommodation support to help care leavers feel safe and settled in their homes
- Identifying and supporting young people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
- Levelling up provision so that more young people get the positive experiences we see in the best areas.
- Addressing the cliff-edge of care at 18.
The report is part of a series of reports analysing the responses of 10,000 care leavers and children in care on what makes a positive difference to their well-being. This report follows a series of recent Children’s Commissioner’s reports and comes ahead of the government’s imminent review of children’s social care.