Motion as passed by conference
Submitted by: Young Liberals
Mover: Brendan Roberts.
Summation: Katharine Macy.
Conference notes that:
- 99,000 children are considered children in care in the UK.
- Care leavers only have a pathway plan from the age of 16 to 21.
- 16-year-olds who become homeless or estranged cannot easily find support.
- One in four young care leavers have had to sofa surf, 14% of young care leavers have slept rough, 40% of care leavers are unable to pay the required deposit for housing, and 57% of care leavers feel unsafe in the area they originally lived in.
- The average child in care enters care at age 14, which is a crucial point academically; young people leaving care are less likely to be involved in education, training, or employment and are more vulnerable to social exclusion in later life.
- Children in care are less likely to achieve their academic potential. Only 12% of care leavers enter higher education by the age of twp.
- Care leavers have sometimes lived in up to 20 foster placements and/or care homes.
- Care leavers often rely on universal credit as their main source of income.
- Children in care and care leavers have higher rates of mental health issues, and are more susceptible to trauma, addiction, dependency issues, depression, and anxiety.
Conference believes that:
- All children deserve full support in reaching their potential, no matter their circumstances.
- Children in care deserve equal access to education and support; care leavers starting at the age of 16 could be inhibiting their ability to partake in post-16 education.
- Care leavers are vulnerable young adults who need the support of both their local authority and government.
- Care leavers need more support than the average young adult, in terms of both health and finances, as they often do not have the support of family.
Conference resolves that:
- All care leavers should have access to support in the form of advisors or mentors up until the age of 25.
- Moving children in care should only happen when necessary; care leavers should have support in transferring between local authorities if they wish, including communication between the two and agreed funding.
- The Government should increase the Care Leaver Bursary from the current £1,000 to £2,000.
- All 16-year-olds should be allowed the opportunity to stay in care until the age of 25. In particular, 16 and 17-year-olds whose family relationship deteriorates should have the full support of their local authority, equal to what they would have had at 15.
- Children in care should be supported with exam resits and revision support by both local authorities and schools.
- Children in care and care leavers should be given access to special meetings to encourage them to explore their future and given full information on apprenticeships, sixth forms, colleges, universities, etc. with no bias of pathways provided.
- Children in care should be offered tutoring and mentoring from the age of 13 provided by local authorities and schools.
- More care leavers should be encouraged to go to university, with support from universities through widening access and taking into consideration alternative qualifications and life experiences when making offers.
- A pledge of the level of support that they will provide to the children in their care should be mandated for all local authorities; the pledge should be legally enforced, with penalties.
Applicability: England only.