A teenage boy with a sweatshirt and sweatpants is leaning over a red plastic outside table to bump fists with an older man with grey hair and glasses who is sitting at the table. They are both smiling.
Mohammad, 17, bumps fists with a local Italian man he had been chatting with during an outing from a government hot spot–a reception center that doubles as a lodging station for unaccompanied minors in Pozzallo, Sicily.

Planning for leaving care (Part 2)

We have already considered how the development of Pathway Plans involves working closely with care leavers to consider the things that will be important to them during and after they leave care. We will now list some of the topics that might be included in a care leavers’ Pathway Plan.

1. Health and well-being

Health and wellbeing are not just about the physical needs of young people, but also and importantly, their emotional health and well-being. Social isolation, loneliness, and unresolved childhood trauma are all factors which can impact on the emotional well-being and mental health of young people leaving care. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care, and support after care, might include:

Health and Wellbeing: this graphic is a list of points. 1 Pathway Planning that takes into account the health needs of a young person and how they will be met. 2 Registering the young person with a doctor and a dentist. 3 Arranging access to specialised services such as mental health/psychosocial programmes. 4 Making sure the young person feels confident about finding and accessing health services when needed

2. Personal development

Personal development is used to describe a young person’s interests, opinions, behaviours, attitudes, way of life and values. This can be particularly important for unaccompanied and separated children who do not have their usual family, community and peer support network to encourage and accompany them in pursuing their interests. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:

Personal Development: this graphic is a list of points. 1 Helping the young person access opportunities for cultural, sport and other recreational activities. 2 Assisting the young person with opportunities to develop their social skills - to be involved in positive social networks and activities that help build their self-confidence. 3 Helping reduce social exclusion and isolation which can impact on a young person's mental and physical health and emotional well-being

3. Positive relationships

For many care leavers, building and maintaining positive relationships can be very important. This may be with their peers from their own cultural background as well as those in the local community they will be staying in. Also be aware of any possible negative connections that might be placing them at risk of exploitation. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:

Positive Relationships: this graphic is a list of points. 1 Helping young people create a positive identity - help them understand their background and culture. 2 Providing emotional support - including dealing with any past problems and conflicts. 3 Helping the young person maintain contact with parent(s) and other family members when it is safe to do so, is in their best interests and is something they wish to do. 4 Creating opportunities for peer-to-peer support - this might be a network of peer supporters drawn from previous unaccompanied care leavers, for example. Creating opportunities to build social networks and friendships

4. Learning and work

Unaccompanied and separated children may face specific challenges related to learning and work. For example, their legal status may impact their ability to access employment or education. They may not be able to speak the local language. They may face particular prejudice, stigma, and discrimination when seeking employment. Perhaps they may have missed long periods of schooling or come from an education system that has not prepared the child for the education provision in their new setting.

However, as much as is possible, helping the care leaver develop a vision for their future and drawing up a realistic plan for them to achieve that vision is a significant motivating factor for them. Having suitable employment or attending college can also foster the development of identity, resilience, and self-esteem. Exploring any possible employment and education options with them, and guiding them in making informed choices, might include:

Learning and Work: this graphic is a list of points. 1 Helping the young person access language courses. 2 Identifying suitable education or training opportunities. Providing help with applications. 3 Making sure young people can access additional educational support - for example if they have missed out on education during their journey. 4 Helping the young person find employment. Developing linnks with local employers who may be able to offer apprenticeships, internships, employment and career opportunities to care leavers. 5 Helping the young person with employment application forms

We will continue with the topic of Pathway Plan in the next course step.

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

University of Strathclyde