Care leaving age should be raised to 25 says Children's Commissioner

Young people should be allowed to stay in care until they reach the age of 25, the Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield announced yesterday.

The call for support to be extended comes after a national survey by the Office of the Children's Commissioner found nearly a third of care leavers felt they had left care before they were ready to fend for themselves.

Of the 2,936 children and young people who responded to the survey, when asked whether they understood why they came into care, more than half who answered said they did not. If this figure was extrapolated to the general population of children in care, the number would be around 35,000 children and young people,

In addition, only 46 per cent of those who responded to the question know how to contact an advocate, a service to which they are entitled.

A report based on the survey findings, The State of the Nation Report 1, makes some key recommendations:

  • the views of children in care are systematically sought and taken into account in all decisions made about them
  • every child is guaranteed at least one continuing and consistent relationship with an adult, throughout their time in care and into adulthood
  • children keep the same social worker for longer
  • every child is given a passport to therapeutic care to help them recover from past harm and build resilience and emotional wellbeing for the future.

Children's Commissoner Ann Longfield said extending the right to support to all care leavers until they are 25 years old needed investment but would prove to bring "great benefits".

"When a child reaches 18, a parent would not wave goodbye to them for good and close the door to them, so we shouldn't do that for children in care, who more than any of us, need a positive springboard for the future."