Planning for leaving care (Part 3)
Here are some more topics for us to consider with an unaccompanied and separated child or young person who is leaving care - especially if helping them develop a Pathway Plan:
5. A place to live
Access to safe, stable, and sustainable accommodation is a key factor in helping young people move on from care. Particularly considering some of the experiences an unaccompanied and separated child might have been through, they need to feel secure and at ease with where they will now live. Having safe, settled accommodation is also a critical factor in supporting a young person achieve in other parts of their life, like employment or education. Some of the Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:
6. Practical skills
Children and young people who have spent a considerable time on the move, and then in care, may not have carried out some of the everyday practical tasks they will need to do when they start to live independently. These tasks include shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. We should try and make sure that care leavers have opportunities to develop these skills while they are in a supportive environment. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:
Poverty, economic disadvantage, and financial hardship are significant factors for many care leavers. Some of the concerns we have already mentioned such as not speaking the local language, discrimination, and cultural assimilation might also be barriers in finding employment or having a legal right to social security payments. It is also important to understand if the unaccompanied and separated child is still dependent on receiving money from their family back home, or if they are expected to send money to their families. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:
8. Rights and legal matters
As we have mentioned in the previous course steps, leaving care - especially as a result of reaching the age of adulthood – could affect the care leavers’ legal status including the right to remain in a particular country. It might also mean that any legal process that started while they were in a child in care might now stop. The care leaver might still not have identity documents or other necessary paperwork that entitles them to work and live in the country, for example. It is important that the care leaver is fully aware of any changes, and access to legal support is ongoing. It is also important to take into consideration the considerable stress and anxiety this might cause. Actions to be taken in preparation for leaving care and support after care might include:
We hope the topics we have considered over the last three course steps have provided you with a few ideas about what needs to be discussed and considered with a care leaver when preparing their Pathway Plan.
Again, we realise the degree to which these topics can be considered when an unaccompanied or separated child leaves a care setting will depend on the particular circumstances, location, and resources. But we hope that, whenever possible, the preparation and support that will particularly help safeguard the child as they move on will be considered with utmost importance.
Please also remember how important it is to complete Pathway Plans after carefully assessing needs, hopes, and aspirations in full participation with the care leaver.