To help understand the support needs of care leavers and ‘what works’ in supporting them into education and employment, The Prince’s Trust, with funding from The Big Lottery, is delivering the England-wide five-year research project ‘From Care to Independence’. The research will culminate in a final report published in early 2017.

Working with the National Children’s Bureau Research Centre, research is being undertaken into:

  • The role the The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme plays in helping care leavers develop the confidence and skills needed to engage with services and wider opportunities
  • How this support functions alongside other sources, and how it can be best delivered

This will help inform how care leavers are supported on Prince’s Trust programmes, as well as being a resource for other practitioners working with care leavers.

Read an executive summary of our interim findings (pdf, 2mb)

Reports

We are an active member of Access All Areas, a group of charities that work with care leavers. In 2012 the group  published a report (pdf, 1mb) showing what the Government needed to do in order to better help young people leaving care. In response to this, the Government published its Care Leaver Strategy in 2013. This set out what central departments would do to improve services for care leavers. Some positive changes came about and in 2014, a one-year-on report from the Department for Education summarised the key changes that had taken place.

Whilst many positive steps have been taken to help care leavers, we want to ensure their voices are heard in any decisions that are being made about them. We have recently consulted with care leavers and asked them what they would like to change about the care system and to highlight good practice. In May 2015 we published a report (PDF, 5mb) setting out the key messages from care leavers, which will be used to influence change.

Each year of the project we host the National Care Leavers’ Week conference, which is an opportunity for those working in the sector to share ideas and ways of working with care leavers.

Young Researchers

As well as taking part in the research, care leavers are being trained to become Young Researchers themselves. Up to 20 care leavers will be trained to undertake research with their peers, key workers and social workers, using both face-to-face interviews and surveys. The data they collect will be used to help inform our findings of what works in supporting care leavers into positive outcomes. Young care leavers will be able to:

  • Develop research and interview skills 
  • Improve their literacy and numeracy
  • Increase their confidence
  • Gain crucial employability skills

The first cohort of young researchers will be trained during the latter half of 2015 with additional groups of care leavers being recruited and trained over the remainder of the project.

Throughout the five years of the programme we are working in partnership with Headliners, a charity who work with young people to inspire and encourage their personal development through journalism. They are offering up to 200 care leavers who are engaged with the Fairbridge teams at the Poplar, Middlesbrough, Kennington and Newcastle centres the opportunity to explore and share their experiences of being in care through photography and media courses. The young people who have been on the courses report having increased confidence in expressing their opinions and had increased social and communication skills.

If you work with care leavers and would like more information on how our programmes can support care leavers please contact: charlotte.lee@princes-trust.org.uk.

If you are a care leaver or are supporting care leavers and need additional help, the following organisations may be able to help you: