The transition to adulthood is a difficult period, especially for young people who have experienced care. Across Europe several trends have emerged on improving support for young people leaving care.
One trend is the extension of state support from age 18 to 21 or beyond if enrolled in education. Another trend is the development of transition plans in cooperation with the care leaver at least one year before they reach the age of adulthood. Finally, another trend is the provision of integrated services that consider all needs of young people leaving state care.
The European Social Network (ESN) has been working on support for care leavers for many years and has put forward a series of recommendations for developing services that include:
- A named professional who can provide a supportive relationship to the young person
- Personalised plans tailored to meeting the specific goals of each young person
- Integrated support (including housing, financial support, education and employment, healthcare and development of life skills)
- Involvement of care leavers in co-producing services: including the planning, design, provision and evaluation.
Some of these elements are embedded in new legislations and practices, as shown by two examples from Italy and France.
Italy: Funding for pilot projects for care leavers
In November 2018, the Italian Government approved a new national Fund for pilot projects supporting care leavers. The fund totals €15 million for the period 2019-2021. Regions can apply to receive funding to support local authorities in developing pilot projects. The new national plan requires that when young people in state care reach 17 years of age, they need to establish together with social services a personalised activation and social plan based on their individual needs. These plans can last up to 36 months and include:
- Funding: €780 per month maximum, based on the same eligibility criteria as the minimum income
- Tutor: a named professional who can provide support to the young person in the framework of the project
- Coordination of services and persons involved: care leavers and their families, social services, NGOs, and public authorities.
France: New legislation
On May 7 2019, the French National Assembly approved the text of a new law aiming to improve services and support for young people leaving state care. The government also decided to provide €60 million to support county councils (départements) to develop projects for care leavers. Some of the new elements introduced by this law for care leavers include:
- Duty of care of the state for young people leaving care
- Guarantee of access to housing or adapted housing
- Priority access for young adults to social housing
- Enhanced cooperation between local public authorities to reinforce access to healthcare, training and higher education
- Obligation for county councils to conduct an interview with the young person six months after leaving child protection services
- Extension of support for further education and studies
Our Working Group on care leavers
The second meeting of ESN’s Integrated Care and Support Working Group taking place in autumn 2019 will focus on the practices implemented by social services for providing integrated support for young people leaving care. This will include financial support and its combination with care, and how coordination with other sectors (education, health, justice, police, housing) can promote an adequate transition to adulthood and independent living.
- ESN Report: Integrated social services in Europe
- ESN Report: Investing in Children’s Services, Improving Outcomes
- ESN Event: Vulnerable youth in transition: Care and support into adulthood
- ESN Event: European youth between education and employment: improving young people's participation in society
- ESN Event: Young offenders in Europe: active inclusion and rehabilitation
- ESN Event: Migrant children and young people: social inclusion and transition to adulthood