Care leavers who leave their children’s home and transition to independent living can experience poor outcomes. Alongside this, many struggle with the isolation of independent living and can suffer with mental health issues. Within Norfolk and Cambridge County Councils there are a high number of care leavers who are not in education, employment or training, live in unsuitable accommodation or who have lost contact with the local authority.
Staying Close, Staying Connected aims to create long-term culture change within care leaver services in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. It is a multi-agency approach to lifelong support for young people, enabling flexible allocation of resources. The intervention includes a number of innovative functions designed to support young care leavers in their transition from care.
‘Moving on houses’ are being established to enable independence skill development to occur in a stable and supported setting. This work sits alongside emotional and physical wellbeing services that help develop young people’s emotional resilience and support their mental health in the long-term. Opportunities for training, employment and education are provided and encouraged with the aim to raise the aspirations from managing on benefits to being self supporting. Furthermore, training packages for residential care staff are co-designed with young people to better prepare them for independent living.
Staying Close, Staying Connected was awarded £1.3m by the Innovation Programme in September 2018. The project will run from January 2018 to June 2020.
DfE funded independent evaluation will be published in 2020.