Against the Odds. Targeted briefing - care leavers. August 2010

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1 Against the Odds Targeted briefing - care leavers August 2010

2 Contents Introduction 3 Background 4 The cost of being NEET 7 Evidence from local areas 12 Conclusion 15 Appendix 1 References 17

3 Introduction Introduction 1 Young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) are likely to feel bored and isolated. They have more chance of long-term unemployment, ill health, and criminality than their peers. When they do get work, they are more likely to be in low-paid jobs. 2 Councils and other local agencies recognise that reducing NEET levels is a priority. Three-quarters of local area agreements have a target to reduce the number of 16 to 18 year olds who are NEET. 3 One in ten young people (210,000 people) were NEET during They will cost 13 billion in public finance costs and 22 billion in opportunity costs over their lifetimes. i 4 Against the Odds will help councils and their partners to challenge current activities and use their resources effectively to tackle NEET levels. 5 Key messages from the study are: young people NEET at 16 to 18 have fewer life opportunities and are more likely to be a long-term cost to the public purse; councils get better outcomes by targeting their approaches to the profile of their local NEET population; commissioners must target resources to the most sustained NEET group, and remove waste and duplication; and better targeting and collaboration can reduce lifetime cost and increase wellbeing. 6 This briefing highlights those findings of Against the Odds which are relevant to care leavers. It draws on published research and the evidence collected for the study. i Costs are based on the 2008 NEET cohort. 3 Against the Odds

4 Background Background 7 In 2008/09, 8,700 young people aged 16 to 18 left local authority care (Ref. 1). Children and young people enter the care system when their parents are unable to care for them because of abuse, neglect or problems within the family (Ref. 2). In order to access the statutory support for care leavers, young people need to meet the following criteria (Ref. 3): be aged between 16 and 21; and be leaving (or have left) the care system having spent at least three months (continuously or in aggregate since age 14) in care. 8 Councils have a responsibility to support care leavers until the age of 21; or 24 where they are supporting them in higher education or training. i 9 Young people who do not meet the care leaver criteria, if they left care earlier for example, are not eligible for this support. This is despite them having similar experiences and needs to those who are eligible. The examples outlined in this briefing are relevant to both groups of young people. 10 In the research for Against the Odds, we analysed data from Connexions Client Caseload Information System (CCIS) databases in nine councils. This data included young people on the database from September 2007 to September Almost half of care leavers were NEET at least once, and a fifth were NEET for six months or more (Figure 1). i The exception to this is disabled young people who received regular respite care while living permanently with their parents. Against the Odds 4

5 Background Figure 1 Care leavers have an increased chance of being NEET Source: Audit Commission, Young people s experiences before and during care differ, and will determine their experience of transitions to adulthood. Many young people who have been in local authority care experience: disruption through multiple placement moves; lack of stability; lack of links with their family, community and identity; poor educational achievement; low self-esteem; stigma about being in care; and a lack of preparation for leaving care, particularly with the practical and social skills needed to live independently (Ref. 2). 5 Against the Odds

6 Background 12 Those who have been in foster care do better than those who have been in children s homes, though most care leavers have experienced both types of placement (Ref. 4). 13 Young people who are looked after can move into independent accommodation when they reach 16. They do have a right to remain looked after until they are 18, and those who remain in care longer have fewer disadvantages (Ref. 2). Ensuring that young people are in appropriate, sustainable placements that they can stay in after they are 16, is an important factor in preventing future difficulties and costs. 14 Young people are often inadequately equipped to live independently when they leave care at age 16 to 18: particularly if they leave because of a placement breakdown rather than a planned move into independence. This can lead to difficulties maintaining accommodation placements if young people have not had the chance to develop the skills and attitudes they need to live independently (Ref. 5). 15 Care leavers are much less likely than their peers to achieve qualifications at school (Table 1). Table 1 Per cent of pupils achieving GCSE passes in 2008/09 At least one GCSE pass At least five GCSEs A*-C All pupils at the end of Key stage 4 Care leavers at the end of Key stage Source: DCSF, 2009 (Ref. 6) 16 In 2008/09, 63 per cent of care leavers were in education, employment or training at age 19. However, the national figure masks significant local variation. The proportion of care leavers in education, employment and training in 2008 ranged from 29 per cent to 96 per cent (Ref. 7). i 17 The complex issues care leavers face mean it is important that professionals take a holistic approach to interventions aimed at engaging them in work or learning. Stable accommodation and a supportive relationship with a significant adult are key factors that influence the success of education, employment or training. i Small numbers of care leavers in some LAs may affect local data. Against the Odds 6

7 The cost of being NEET The cost of being NEET 18 Research by York University estimates an average lifetime public finance cost of 56,301 for a young person who is NEET aged 16 to 18. However, costs for care leavers are likely to be higher, as the following case studies show. These case studies, taken from work by the University of York, take a case of a care leaver and look at both a positive and negative potential outcome for that young person. 19 For each case study the 'A' scenario outlines what happens when young people receive support. These scenarios are based on a real-life case study taken from longitudinal qualitative research. Young people were interviewed several times up to their 20s or 30s. Their future life story is then projected based on their progress to date and ambitions for the future as discussed at their last interview. This is supplemented with expert and academic knowledge about these types of cases. 20 The 'B' scenario represents how the life course would be likely to develop had a series of events or a social policy intervention not taken place. The early life scenario is based on what the A case said might have happened to them if they had not got support. Their later life story is based on expert and academic knowledge of the outcomes of these types of cases. 7 Against the Odds

8 The cost of being NEET Neeha A case study Neeha first went into care aged 11, after suffering physical abuse from her father and elder brothers. Initially this was kinship care, but changed to foster care when her abusive father became involved with the extended family. She had various forms of residential and foster care, but was unhappy and regularly ran away. At 16, she insisted on moving out of foster care and living independently. By this stage she had left school without any qualifications. The leaving care team (LCT) were reluctant to agree to Neeha living alone. They eventually consented, providing she had a proper pathway plan, a personal advisor from the LCT, and she agreed to take part in education or training. The LCT gave her an accommodation bond, paid her rent and gave her a weekly living allowance. She also had a leaving care grant to buy some essentials for her flat. She initially went to college but was asked to leave for fighting. However, she continued with the placement element of the course in a local primary school. She also took a training scheme, which she said she hated. Despite doing all this for two years, she received no formal qualifications. The turning point for Neeha was attending a voluntary sector project which combined classroom education and training with tough physical challenges. She spent 16 days in the Pyrenees, costing over 17,000 as there were few young people taking part in this particular expedition. However, the experience opened her eyes to what she could do and her own ability to be able to shape her future. On return from Spain, she immediately signed up for a college course in sports management. She soon found out she was pregnant, and took time out from the course to have her baby. With the help and support of the LCT who paid her nursery costs, she returned to college and eventually got level 3 qualifications. iv She also got involved in a project led by the National Care Leavers Association (NCLAS), where she researched leaving care schemes in other boroughs. Projected future for Neeha A After achieving her level 3 qualifications, Neeha gains part-time employment, paid at just over the minimum wage, in a sports centre. While there she receives some further training. When her child reaches school age, she goes into full-time work supported by childcare. At age 30, after having worked for five years, Neeha has another two children. She returns to work part time aged 35 and full time aged 40, until she retires at Even though the path of Neeha A results in a positive outcome, there are still public finance costs associated with the case. The research estimates Neeha A will have a welfare cost of 325,106 over her lifetime. Much of that is incurred before the age of 25, at which point her public finance contributions are only 6,885. However, over her working life she goes on to make significant public finance contributions through tax and national insurance payments ( 196,419). Almost two thirds of the welfare costs ( 199,218) relate to child-related welfare payments for Neeha s three children: most of these benefits are available to any parent, regardless of age or income. The intervention cost was high, at 49,847. iv Level 3 qualifications are equivalent to two A levels. Against the Odds 8

9 The cost of being NEET 22 Although the high-cost trip to the Pyrenees directly led to the change of direction in Neeha s story, it is likely that a similar outcome could have been achieved for a lower cost. The key success factor was taking part in an activity that sparked Neeha s interest enough to want to engage when she returned home. The support given when Neeha became pregnant also helped her continue her college course. In a case like Neeha s, support from the LCT was essential in removing barriers to enable her to take part in activities that led to her achieving qualifications and employment. 23 The alternative scenario looks at what may happen if support structures and interventions are not in place or are unsuccessful. Neeha B case study Neeha B had the same experience of care as Neeha A, and at age 16 was ready to leave. She received the same financial support as Neeha A when she moved into independent accommodation. Neeha B became pregnant at age 18. Without additional support, she dropped out of college after three months. From that point, her career became dominated by parenting and she had two more children by the age of 21. Projected future for Neeha B With a large family, Neeha does not seek employment until her children are attending secondary school. Without qualifications or work experience, Neeha becomes a churner, moving in and out of temporary, poorly paid work until she retires. 24 The Neeha B case study shows that even without a turning point intervention like Neeha A, statutory interventions for care leavers still mean high intervention costs ( 7,990), without necessarily achieving the longer-term benefits. 25 The lifetime welfare costs of Neeha B are 432,681, which is only 57,728 more than Neeha A. However, Neeha B will only contribute 95,477 in tax and national insurance. 26 As Neeha B has limited employment and therefore requires less childcare, her child-related costs work out lower than Neeha A s, at 151,070. However, Neeha B s long-term worklessness means her other welfare costs are higher, at 273, Figure 2 shows a breakdown of the costs for the two cases. 9 Against the Odds

10 The cost of being NEET Figure 2 The public finance costs of Neeha A and Neeha B Source: York University, 2010 Against the Odds 10

11 The cost of being NEET 28 In September 2010 the Audit Commission will publish a costing tool allowing areas to forecast long-term costs associated with their population. The tool will be available on our website at 11 Against the Odds

12 Evidence from local areas Evidence from local areas 29 Areas use different approaches to help care leavers to improve their chances of sustaining long-term work and learning. Effective projects must satisfy one or more of the following criteria. Encouraging engagement this can be through personal development and positive activities. This can have a big impact in raising self-esteem, improving social skills and adjusting to leaving care. Removing barriers barriers can include inadequate accommodation, lack of support from a significant adult, low self-confidence and poor qualifications. By removing these barriers young people are more likely to maintain engagement. Providing progression pathways it can take time for some groups, such as care leavers, to enter sustained education, employment or training. By having longterm goals projects can equip young people with the skills and motivation needed and measure distance travelled. 30 Table 1 shows some of the approaches areas are using to work with care leavers. Table 1 Areas are using a wide range of approaches to work with care leavers Encouraging engagement Removing barriers Providing progression pathways Tower Hamlets Barriers to Employment project was funded by Positive Activities for Young People and involved care leavers developing skills in journalism and media, and producing a DVD about issues facing care leavers entering employment. The film was shown at the British Film Institute on the South Bank in London, and all five young people involved moved into work or learning. With the benefit of European Social Funding, Connexions in Salford run a job club aimed at preparing, mentoring and supporting looked-after children aged 16 to 19 who are NEET. The project runs for five weeks and young people attend for three hours a week. With the support of a Life Coach and a Connexions Worker, they work on completing application forms, writing CVs and developing interview techniques, as well as improving confidence and developing positive behaviour and body language. The project is AQA accredited. After this, young people can move on to an eight-week work experience placement organised by Next Step and Connexions Salford. Work placements have been in the City Council, at a school and on a construction site with a training provider. Rotherham College has links with the LAC team and has a named contact for LAC and care leavers attending the college. This ensures they receive one-to-one mentoring and support with practical issues like completing Education Maintenance Allowance forms. Northumberland use the B-Skills Ltd E2E programme to offer training in areas such as construction, customer service and ICT to level 1 young people. v They have a strong relationship with a care leavers service provider in the area so are in a good position to offer support to care leavers. Source: Audit Commission, 2010 v Level 1 qualifications are equivalent to five GCSEs, grade D-G. Against the Odds 12

13 Evidence from local areas The following, more detailed case studies set out some of the successful approaches areas have taken to engage care leavers. Southwark coaching programme Southwark developed a coaching programme for care leavers. Twenty senior managers in the council volunteered to receive training in mentoring young people to support them in getting into work and learning. In November 2009, 18 managers were successfully matched with care leavers. Mentoring relationships are expected to last around six months, with mentors helping care leavers with things like writing CVs and applying for jobs within the council. Although outcome data is limited due to confidentiality, the low-cost scheme appears to be having positive results for both the mentors and the care leavers (Ref. 8). Gloucestershire s personalised support for care leavers Gloucestershire has personalised services for vulnerable groups of young people (for example, those excluded from school or at risk of offending). Low-cost solutions, such as bus passes, can help young people get to a place of learning or work. A project with care leavers granted up to 500 to each young person to help them overcome barriers to progression or to commission personal development or training opportunities. After three months, 24 of the 36 attendees had moved in to work or learning. Staff are often able to use existing provision for young people, just adding some incentives to get young people to attend. The project had an 11,000 underspend and generated a potential saving of 182,000. vi Gloucestershire is extending this approach to young people NEET, so they can get personalised support. 31 There are links between being a care leaver and other barriers to engagement, such as low education attainment, being a teenage parent, being a refugee or asylum seeker, and being in the criminal justice system. This briefing highlights examples directly linked to being a care leaver. The Audit Commission has produced separate briefings that cover other examples of overcoming barriers to engagement. Visit to access the other briefings in this series. 32 Care leavers often face a combination of issues, and the most successful approaches draw in the expertise of a range of professionals. This is best coordinated by one person who is able to develop a trusting relationship with the young person. The real-life example below comes from Rathbone, a UK-wide voluntary sector organisation that provides opportunities for young people to re-engage with learning. vi The savings are based on the average cost of being NEET age 16 to 18, calculated by the University of York research commissioned as part of this study. 13 Against the Odds

14 Evidence from local areas Real-life example Carl became estranged from his family aged 11 after a series of events at home that led to his mother applying to have him removed and put into care. Although he still sees his mother and younger brothers occasionally, he finds it difficult to build a positive relationship with his mother. He has never met his father and knows little about him. Carl truanted from school after going into care, and left at age 16 with no qualifications. He had some involvement with the criminal justice system for criminal damage committed while in care. Carl uses illegal drugs, although he has recently reduced his drug use and wants to stop using completely. Now aged 18, Carl is in the process of moving from a local authority children s home into semi-independent accommodation. He has a twoyear-old son, to whom access is limited based on the wishes of the child s mother. He would like to gain more access, though his ex-girlfriend s family do not approve of him so are making this difficult. His experiences in care have made him distrustful of adults and unwilling to open up to them. Carl wants to move to independent living within 6 months, while working full time. He fears that if he gets into his own place without having an income he may not succeed and could become homeless. Carl self-referred to a Rathbone support worker without the knowledge of his peers. He is responding well to one-to-one mentoring and education sessions. With the help of his Connexions personal adviser, Carl is working on gaining qualifications and is applying to college for foundation courses. Carl is keen to continue having a support worker as he moves into independent living status. Without this he is scared of what might happen to him. Against the Odds 14

15 Conclusion Conclusion 33 Care leavers can be expensive to the public purse over their whole lives. Short-term costs (16 to 18) of not being in work or training may not be significantly more than the cost of learning or other interventions. However, over the medium term (19 to 59) and long term (60 and over), the costs of being a NEET care leaver can be high. With suitable support and access to work or learning care leavers can move into sustained education, employment or training. 34 Children need appropriate stable placements while in care that offer them the best chance of succeeding when they leave. Their chances are also improved if early intervention after care ensures they make the most of the statutory support available to them. This includes supporting them in finding safe, stable accommodation and ensuring they have at least one positive, trusting relationship with a supportive adult. Other ways to support care leavers include mentoring, providing courses to increase literacy and numeracy, financial support and brokering placements. Areas should ensure a single person coordinates the required support to avoid confusion. 35 The case studies provide examples of how others have supported care leavers access to work or learning. The self-assessment questions can also be used to assess current provision and identify improvement actions. Table 2 Self-assessment questions Use these questions to plan your response to the issues in this briefing and in Against the Odds. How could you use local information better to plan effective interventions? How are you using the Connexions database to produce management and planning information as well as using it for case management? How could you make better use of other information held by local partners about young people, care leavers, employment opportunities and other sources of support? How do you use information to identify what works, for whom, and why? How could you strengthen the collaboration between local partners that support care leavers? How can you improve information sharing to deliver better outcomes? How can you ensure better coordination of support? How can you cut out wasted effort and duplication? 15 Against the Odds

16 Conclusion What works for care leavers? How robust is your knowledge of what works, for whom, and why? How do you use information about what works to make better commissioning decisions? How could you improve the evaluation of projects and interventions? What barriers do care leavers face? Who is affected by these barriers? Are there any gaps in provision in the area? What low-cost interventions are available to address this? What is currently on offer to care leavers in your area? How effective are the progression routes? How are you making sure that you commission interventions that work? How well do you understand and manage the costs of interventions for care leavers in your area? How do these costs compare with the long-term costs of care leavers being NEET? How well do partners understand the relationship between short-term and longterm costs? How do you use your understanding of these costs to make the case for funds to support interventions for care leavers? How do your costs and outcomes benchmark against those in other areas? Against the Odds 16

17 Conclusion Appendix 1 References 1 [accessed June, 2010] 2 M Stein, Young People Leaving Care: A Research Perspective, A. Weal (ed) The RHP Companion to Leaving Care, Russell House Publishing pp28-33, Children (Leaving Care) Act M Stein, What Works for Young People Leaving Care? Barnardos, M Allen, Into the Mainstream: Care Leavers Entering Work, Education and Training. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, [accessed June, 2010] 7 [accessed June, 2010] 8 [accessed June, 2010] 17 Against the Odds

18 The Audit Commission The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local public services to deliver better outcomes for everyone. Our work across local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services means that we have a unique perspective. We promote value for money for taxpayers, auditing the 200 billion spent by 11,000 local public bodies. As a force for improvement, we work in partnership to assess local public services and make practical recommendations for promoting a better quality of life for local people. Copies of this report If you require further copies of this report, or a copy in large print, in Braille, on tape, or in a language other than English, please call Audit Commission 2010 For further information on the work of the Commission please contact: Audit Commission, 1st Floor, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4HQ Tel: Fax: Textphone (minicom):

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