Prioritising teenagers

Teenagers in care are 80% more likely than the national average to have two or more changes of home in a year.

While every teenager has challenges to navigate around school, friendships and finding their place in the world, young people in care are facing so much more.

Teenagers in care are most likely to experience instability, being 80% more likely than the national average to have two or more changes of home in a year. Yet there is increasing evidence that our care system has not adjusted well to meet the needs of this significant cohort.

Our Five Star campaign, along with systematic media coverage over the past two years, has highlighted that young people are regularly being placed in inappropriate accommodation, including caravans, tents and canal boats. A report in 2019 found that 12,800 children in England had spent time in an unregulated placement, equating to 1 in 8 children in care.

Story after story is emerging of individual cases where young people have been left to fend for themselves, hugely vulnerable to exploitation. We recognise that social workers responsible for these young people do not want to place them in unsuitable accommodation but are often left with no choice. Such impossible situations are indicative of a system with a crisis in options for teenagers.

At Home for Good, we are passionate about advocacy for the most vulnerable. We use our voice and opportunities to advocate for every child in care to thrive. Too often the goal of the care system for young people is ‘independence’ and this is measured by enabling young people to reach the age of 18 or 21 ‘successfully’. We want to see a shift away from the ‘independence’ mindset and focus instead on how young people are set up for life, ensuring there is a strong network around them to stick by them and champion them at every stage.

At the heart of all this is young people. Children. Vulnerable but brilliant, complex but brimming with value and potential, the majority of whom have experienced abuse or neglect in their lifetime. Teenagers who need love, acceptance, patience and encouragement. They need families who will commit to them and offer them the security they need, so they can fulfil their potential. We don’t want them to be lone rangers, but rather be embedded in a supportive community where they feel they belong, and they are able to contribute. We believe the Church is perfectly placed to make this a reality.

This article was first published in the Home for Good magazine: Summer 2021. To stay up-to-date with Home for Good's news and how you can give, pray and get involved to help vulnerable children and young people, join our mailing list here.

Author:
Natalie Mills for Home for Good


Date published:
June 2021


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