Tag Archives: leaving care

Difficult and Challenging

A critical time for all young people is in their late teens, understanding who you are is often a complicated task on its own.  For some not knowing where you have come from or if you are a separated child from another country this process becomes even harder.  Over many years of practise that there is no easy or quick fix to help young people work out this process.  Indeed for some the early years neglect and abuse establishes a chaotic behaviour that is misunderstood and occasionally poorly managed.

It is understandable then why the Government would want Local Authorities to focus on early years intervention.  Despite the major floor in its plan in cutting budgets to all services, which inevitably will reduce the referrals and early identification when essentially they are needed.  Furthermore, many parents may have already experienced disorganised parenting themselves and fail to identify the need to change their own parenting style.

The damage to the young person is often devastating and will impact on their ability to form new relationships and attachments.  For me this is key in my role supporting social workers writing assessments of need and pathway plans.  With the current pressures on budgets to move young people out of often expensive out of county residential placements into semi supported living, it is essential to get this right.

This step down is needed and for many young people turning 18 years of age it is a shock to know that suddenly to find it removed.  And for many years young people who have been angry that they have been in care and have been told by their families that they can return suddenly find out that their family is not there for them.

What many young people need is for their social workers to be able to spend more quality time unpicking these key issues.  Social work is not about ticking boxes and assessing need without following through with the assessment made.  For many local authorities they will want to reduce placement costs and one way to positively due this is by allowing positive social work to happen.  Either through creative thinking or longer term projects addressing need.  Running support groups and challenging myths.

This week I heard that a young person had taken their own life because of their placement.  I disagree that it was the placement that resulted in the young person sadly taking their life.  Instead, it was likely the early childhood trauma that had not been able to be addressed in order for the young person to feel safe and develop a resilience in their life.

And for young people in care that sense of feeling alone in the Universe is something that I will never experience, so need to be mindful of and ensure my social workers understand.  For many others who are fortunate enough to be able to enter into care at an early stage they will be able to develop the resilience needed to help them through their adolescents and into adulthood.

I guess the message is that Social Work is essential in supporting young people and reducing staff will increase placement costs as placements breakdown.  Increasing staffing budgets will reduce placement costs as placements are maintained and better outcomes are achieved by the young people.

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Am I ready to move on?

Working in a looked after children’s team working with young people preparing to leave care, I was not surprised to read in my daily Community Care e-mail this article on Care Leavers. Although it does not surprise me, it does worry me and whether maybe the research that was put into this is now out of date? As the link at bottom of this articles states the Care Regs changed in April 2011. However, if you are not signed up to CCinform the full guidance is here.

In short the new care regulations promotes 16 year olds remaining in care rather than being left to look after themselves in their own flat. The main reason for this is for the exact reason describe in the Community Care article. Of course if they can return home or can live with friends then this is also encouraged and will provide young people an opportunity to understand independent living.

However, it does not matter whether you are 16, 18 or 24 years of age, if you are not ready to live alone or do not have the skills independent living is is always going to be a challenge. Furthermore, once you have left care there is very little protection for you. If you make a mistake in your rent payments or a vulnerable young person and can not manage your tenancy then you lose your right to hold another tenancy.

Although the leaving care service does provide a transition for young people leaving care, their role is not statutory. As young adults they can make the decision not to engage with their workers and for many young people leaving care they do not want to continue to think they are still being “looked after”.

It is also worrying the cost of placements for young people planning on leaving care. Making it impossible sometimes to find sustainable housing for them. This is another area in which vulnerable people are being affected on a daily basis by the cuts being made else where. The lack of suitable accommodation and support provide in what is available can impact on all other areas. The good placements where support is at the right level are often to expensive and may not transition into a placement that will provide an independent placement post 18.

There are also many challenges for young people especially those who have been placed out of county for many years and no longer wish to return to their Local Authority where they might have housing priority. For many young people to be able to feel confident in moving on, the need for a positive support network maybe essential. And often this can not be a professional network that finishes work at 5.30pm.

For some young people their teenage years are often spent in turmoil and chaos, despite the all of support and guidance offered. Reigning in their own emotions is not achievable, and often the only way to feel secure is to be around a lot of other people. So when moving on plans are discussed in review meetings, or reviews of the pathway plan or on visits this causes the trauma to be triggered again. Making any move on plans harder to make.

Sadly no Local Authority is the same in the services that might be offered, but whilst pressure for budgets to be cut on all services again leave young people being forced to cope often alone due to what each Local Authority might be offering. Cuts on budgets also means higher case loads, lower support packages and placements being ended to ensure a service can be offered to everyone.

And despite the perception of social workers this can impact on the way that you feel about the work, the pressure and strains this can have whilst social workers fight to ensure young people can manage. Many often putting in long hours to try and achieve sometimes the smallest tasks for the young people.

 

Still working on work

Would I want to be young again, I wonder? It amazes me every year we hear that the GCSE grades are getting better because the exams are becoming easier.  Yet, does this really say what is happening.

In my experience I have been fortunate enough to have never been out of work, homeless or destitute.  But like many young people I do wonder what would happen if I did not have a job, or a skill I could sell to potential employers.  In fact without my social work qualification I think I would be in great danger of struggling to find work in today’s work market.

Working with young people in care has made me more aware of the difficulties that many people especially young people find in looking for work.   Placements, transports, contact, support are all areas that could affect the emotional well-being of the young people to stay employable.

There have been many schemes that try to get people back into work and the latest promotes work experience as a way of giving valuable experience in a work place.  However, this has come with a well publicised criticism and most of which has been fair.

We have yet seen from this government a positive approach to enabling young people to return to work.  I doubt that we will see anything meaningful until confidence is restored in employers to meaningfully recruit and expand their business again.

For young people more support is needed in helping develop their own understanding of the work market.  Time dedicated in developing their own interests and knowledge so that as business shrink into the Web and out of the high streets.  Young people can challenge the business markets and create their own work.  Maybe if more vulnerable young people such as care leavers are encouraged to work with organisations such as the Prince’s trust their mentoring scheme could help develop this.

Or if you are someone who could help young vulnerable people develop confidence and skills needed to find work offer your help to the Prince’s Trust mentoring scheme.