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Children leaving care deserve better

Posted on July 22, 2015

Head of Coodes’ Mental Health and Community Care Team Lawrence Ford, says that too many young people are not getting the support they need as they leave care.

“Coodes has recently been awarded a Community Care Contract, which means we are advising more young people as they leave care.

“Children leaving care have a number of legal rights, but too many are not getting the support they are entitled to. This issue affects all of us: young people leaving care may have suffered serious neglect and abuse and are more likely to end up getting involved in crime and drug abuse, and often struggle to achieve good qualifications.

“The process should start early, with the local authority assessing the young person’s needs before they leave care and sometime after their fifteenth birthday. A leaving care plan should take into account the young person’s needs and views and specify what will happen if the plan goes wrong. It will explain how the local authority will help the young person achieve their goals, including providing them with somewhere to live and giving financial supporting towards education, training or getting a job

“One of the most high profile issues is that of young people being allocated unsuitable housing. A recent study by Barnardo’s found that many children leaving care are placed in bed and breakfast accommodation, which can be isolating and sometimes dangerous. They are sometimes placed away from their siblings or families and are all-too-often left with little or no support. In fact, the young person has a legal right to a suitable place to live, which may mean be near, or sometimes deliberately away from, other family members.

“Young people are also entitled to financial support towards education and training and setting up a home. In 2011 the law changed so that this support could be extended up to the age of 25 for someone who wants to return to education or training.

“A young person has the right to see their files, to be advised about services available to them, to maintain their relationships with relatives and friends, and to be fully involved in decisions.

“Sadly, I meet many vulnerable young people who are not getting the support they are entitled to. Fortunately young people leaving care can access legal aid so we can help them get what they need and deserve.”

Lawrence Ford, Head of Coodes Mental Health/Community Care Team and a Specialist Child Care Lawyer is able to offer expert legal advice to young people who are leaving care.

For more information on Mental Health or Community Care related enquires contact Coodes’ Lawrence Ford on 01872 246200 or email lawrence.ford@coodes.co.uk

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