Young people within residential care can struggle to transition to independent living and adult services. Many young people express anxiety with the change of services and lack of support that can come with independent living. A number of young people in Bristol have articulated a desire to either live in accommodation close to their existing residential care, live longer within their child home or live with a responsible adult.
Bristol’s Staying Close pilot offers children who are transitioning out of children’s homes twice weekly meetings with their existing residential care member, as well as additional drop-in opportunities. In partnership with youth social housing providers, secure housing is provided in the vicinity of the young person’s existing children’s home. Existing children’s homes are being temporarily relocated while a new home is designed, with one children’s home specifically for over 15s. This includes a refurbished annex to act as a ‘trainer’ opportunity for young people looking to develop independent living skills.
The aim of the project is to test the extent to which young people who live in children’s homes can stay close when they leave regardless of the provider or the location. Working with other local authorities in the region, Bristol are developing inter-authority arrangements and agree protocols to support care leavers who wish to stay close wherever their children’s home is located. Learning from these regional arrangements, Bristol is working with DfE and others to consider the scope for a national agreement.
DfE funded independent evaluation will be published in 2020.