Supported lodgings – equipping vulnerable young adults with life skills, stability and confidence

In an outdated care system unable to meet the increasing demands on it, supported lodgings can offer a financially viable and supportive environment for older teenagers to flourish and to learn key life skills.

  • There are over 80,000 children and young people in care in England – nearly a quarter of these are aged 16+ and this percentage is rising each year.
  • There is an urgent need for high quality, age-appropriate provision for older teenagers in the care system.
  • Supported lodgings offers a cost-efficient way to provide older teenagers with more independence while providing relational support and teaching key life skills.
  • A new Savanta ComRes survey has found that 25% of UK adults would consider becoming a supported lodgings host (rising to nearly 50% among regular churchgoers).

In an outdated care system unable to meet the increasing demands on it, supported lodgings can offer a financially viable and supportive environment for older teenagers to flourish and to learn key life skills.

That is the key message in a major new report published today by fostering and adoption charity Home for Good entitled Brimming with Potential: The case for supported lodgings.

Home for Good’s goal has always been ‘to find a home for every child who needs one.’ Traditionally the charity has focused on fostering and adoption as ways to care for vulnerable children. However, there is a shortage of foster carers and adoptive families for teenagers - only 1% of adoptions are of children over the age of 10 and many foster carers are not willing to care for teenagers. In addition, fostering or adoption is not always suitable or appropriate for this age group, who often want greater independence but still need support. This – coupled with the increase in the number of older teenagers in care (the number of young people aged 16+ in the care system increased by 39% between 2010 and 2020) – means that there is an urgent need to prevent the system failing vulnerable older teenagers aged 16+, who currently make up nearly a quarter of the children and young people in the care system.

In supported lodgings, a young person aged 16+ lives in the room of a ‘host’ family or individual, usually for 18-24 months. The host holds less parental responsibility for them but provides them with emotional support and helps them to develop key life skills, including budgeting and cooking. This enables young people to receive support in a very relational way and provides a good stepping-stone for young people towards adulthood. A report in Spring 2021 by Price Waterhouse Cooper and Home for Good titled ‘The Investment Of A Lifetime: Delivering Better Outcomes for Children in Care’ highlighted that older teenagers leaving care often have no ongoing support and crucial life skills, and considerably lower life chances and outcomes than their peers. This leads to an inter-generational cycle of care leavers whose children go on to enter the care system with 32% of children in care having at least one parent who has been in care themselves; supported lodgings can help to alleviate this problem. At a time of economic pressure where it is estimated that there will be a £3.1 billion shortfall in funding for children’s social care by 2025, supported lodgings is a financially viable option, with hosts being paid considerably less than foster carers. The system also has the potential to facilitate a supportive relationship between a host and a young person which is sustainable after the young person moves out and starts living independently.


Brimming with Potential: The case for supported lodgings draws on research conducted over the last two years, including interviews with local authorities, practitioners, young people who have been in supported lodgings placements, and supported lodgings hosts across England, research on the current use and cost of supported lodgings, and a Savanta ComRes survey exploring public attitudes and awareness of supported lodgings. The latter, conducted among 2000 UK adults, found that 69% had never heard of supported lodgings, but that 25% would consider becoming a supported lodgings host (this rose to 49% among regular churchgoers). Those aged 18-34 were most likely to consider becoming a supported lodgings host – as being a supported lodgings host involves less responsibility and fewer hours of support than fostering, Home for Good believe that supported lodgings is able to draw in a new cohort of people, for whom adoption and fostering might not be possible or suitable.

Supported lodgings is not a completely new idea but it is under-utilised – currently only 1000 young people are living in supported lodgings in England. Brimming with Potential: The case for supported lodgings includes recommendations for government, the Review of Social Care in England, local authorities, supported lodgings providers and churches, to enable a much wider use of supported lodgings. The report also addresses the challenges of supported lodgings - including the current lack of understanding about the scheme, recruitment, financial variation, and regulation – and looks at how these can be addressed. At a time when Fostering Network estimates that England will need to recruit 7,300 foster families over the next year, supported lodgings offers a solution to meet the holistic needs of older teenagers in the care system.

Tania Bright, CEO of Home for Good, commented:

‘With older teenagers now comprising a significant and growing proportion of children in the care system, it is vital that the system adapts to ensure these young people are offered the best chance to go on and reach their potential. As a former supported lodgings host, I have seen first-hand the challenges and joys that caring for a young person can bring, and our report today sets out the ways in which supported lodgings can provide holistic, relational support to young people that meets them where they are. We've heard so much about the poor-quality provision that must be eliminated, but we also need to put forward solutions to provide alternatives.
This report offers one such solution and makes a compelling case for greater use of this valuable provision.’

READ THE REPORT HERE

Author:
Home for Good


Date published:
3 November 2021


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