Looked after children and care leavers

Catch22’s wide ranging provision delivers holistic support to looked after children and care leavers whilst in care and once they have left care to improve their life chances. We also run the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum, ensuring that we are at the forefront of best practice.

Less than 1% of children are in care1, yet almost a quarter of the adult prison population2 and almost half of young men under 21-years-old3 in the criminal justice system have spent time in care. 25% of homeless people have been in care3 and only 6% of care leavers move into higher education4.

Our approach

Through our statutory leaving care services and our wider provision, we tailor our support for looked after children and care leavers, offering practical and sustainable ways to improve their life chances.

Looked after children in our alternative education provision are supported with individual plans, with schools offering strategies and a designated member of staff to support them. Our leaving care services support the transition to independence to ensure care leavers have the same opportunities as other young people and to prevent the negative impact caused by a lack of suitable housing, employment or emotional support. Extended support includes our Care2Work employment and apprenticeships scheme, whilst our justice provision supports those who become involved in gangs towards positive lifestyle choices and behaviours.

Best practice
Catch22 runs the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum (NLCBF), the largest membership forum specialising in leaving care in the UK, with an active membership of over 80 local authorities in England and Northern Ireland. The forum shares best practice and promotes the voice of care leavers through the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum.

‘The NLCBF plays a key role in promoting sector-led improvement of leaving care support services.’
Robert MacPherson, Children in Care, Department for Education

Reducing admissions into care
We offer intensive, short-term support to families in crisis, de-escalating crisis situations, liaising across services and delivering appropriate levels of monitoring and intervention to ensure children and young people are safeguarded. This intensive support in emergency situations helps to prevent, where appropriate, admission into care.

Extended offer to care leavers
Our diverse national network of services means that we are able to support looked after children and care leavers in a variety of settings, including:

Fostering independence
Our supported and supportive accommodation services for care leavers help them to secure tenancies and address issues preventing them from living independently. As well as receiving practical housing and budgeting support, they are enabled to feel safe, secure, valued in their community and confident in their ability to manage the practicalities of life.

Wraparound therapeutic support
We are piloting new approaches to supporting children and young people at risk of or experiencing child sexual exploitation across South Yorkshire. The Empower and Protect programme recruits and trains specialist foster carers who are given wraparound therapeutic support by our team of psychologists and youth workers. We are also embedding wider system change by bringing mental health disciplines into the social care context.

‘My Catch22 worker gave me support to help me move. I feel more comfortable now and it’s good to have the same person to talk to…My adviser is a lifeline.’
Young person

Our impact

From April 2015 to January 2016, we supported 189 care leavers through Care2Work, of which:

  • 77% got interviews
  • of which 50% started work or an apprenticeship
  • of which 80% were full time jobs or apprenticeships.

In 2014/15, we supported 65 looked after children through our Reintegration, KS3, KS4 and Turnaround education projects, of which:

  • 91% completed their projects
  • 89% moved on to positive destinations.

90% of families supported by our rapid response service did not have their child placed in local authority care at the end of the intervention.

‘… examples of local sharing of good practice, such as the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum, whose members’ Ofsted ratings are on average better than for non-members.’
House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts4

Further information


1 Care – a stepping stone to custody?, Prison Reform Trust (2011)
2 Prisoners’ childhood and family backgrounds, Ministry of Justice (March 2012)
3 Care leavers’ transition to adulthood, National Audit Office (July 2015)
4 Care leavers’ transition to adulthood, Fifth Report of Session 2015–16, House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts (October 2015)

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