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Young People Leaving Care: A Four Nations Perspective

By Janet Grauberg

The Care Leavers’ Case Study seeks to summarise the policy priorities of the four UK nations for this group of young people, review outcomes for which data is publicly available, and discuss a number of areas where policy differences can be identified.

For the last thirty years there has been a steady expansion of government engagement in the lives of young people who are leaving care. Government policy has focused on care leavers because their outcomes are consistently poorer than those of their peers, in terms of educational achievement, employment, progression to higher education, mental health and rates of homelessness.

The term ‘care leaver’ is applied to a young person over 16 who has been in the care of the local authority for a significant time in their childhood and/or teenage years. However, the precise definition of a care leaver and the support to which they are entitled varies across the UK nations.