Appendix B: Summary And Update On Accommodation
The provision of safe, stable and sustainable accommodation can make a vital difference to a young person in making a transition to adult living. It is no longer acceptable to say that young people wish or choose to move on at sixteen or seventeen and that they 'vote with their feet'.
Young people should be encouraged enabled and empowered to remain in their care setting until the time is right for them to take the next step towards interdependent living.
The Supporting Young People Leaving Care in Scotland: Regulations and Guidance on Services for Young People Ceasing to be Looked After by Local Authorities published in 2004 sets out the requirements when providing services for young people leaving care. However, it is clear that the age at which young people leave care is a key factor in ensuring a successful transition.
In Scotland the age at which young people leave care remains stubbornly low, between sixteen and eighteen years of age against the average age for leaving home in Scotland, which is around twenty‑six.
The Staying Put Scotland Guidance and Housing Options Protocol for Care Leavers, both published in October 2013, offer practical examples of how corporate parents may address these issues. These examples are drawn from existing good practice, which already exists within some local authorities and local housing partnerships tried to address both these issues.
However consistent implementation both in terms of practice and available resources remains a key challenge to ensuring that all care leavers are afforded access to a range of and housing options and person-centred supports.
An Inform Paper on Housing Options and Care Leavers by CELCIS presents new evidence from a follow-up survey of the Housing Options Protocol.
Participants suggested that, in many areas, expectations that care leavers will move on from care when they are aged sixteen or seventeen years persist amongst workers and young people. These expectations are highly normative and thought to be a significant contributor to care leavers' moving on too early and before they are ready. Pressure to move young people on can influence workers who want to free up spaces for other children and young people in need of a placement.
In a number of areas, Children's Hearings were beginning to make recommendations for longer-term and continuing placements as young people approached care-leaving age, rather than suggesting that young people leave care.
Increased use of supported carers was another approach used to ensure care leavers either continued living with foster carers or had a placement with support prior to moving on to interdependent living. Secure, safe and stable accommodation is an essential building block for success and achievement, and has a direct impact on emotional health and wellbeing.
Information sharing across all relevant corporate parents is required to ensure that key partners are aware of emerging accommodation needs in advance, to enable plans to be put in place to address gaps in provision, and give care leavers meaningful choice.
Housing, including Housing Associations and children's services, need to identify issues with accommodation early on and have clear contingency arrangements. However the provision of suitable accommodation should also be accompanied by appropriate levels of person-centred support, bespoke to the individual needs of each care leaver.