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Care leavers

NLCBF responds to inquiry into “Children in care and financial education”

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, taken from across the River Thames. Overlaid is text that reads: "Consultation Response".

The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum (NLCBF) is a national network of over 100 local authorities promoting the development of quality leaving care services with member authorities and partner organisations through a process of benchmarking and shared learning on a national scale. Our aim is to achieve the best outcomes for young people making the transition from care to adulthood.

Care experienced young people are at the heart of what we do and as part of our work, we also deliver the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum (YPBMF) that brings together young people 16-years-old and above from local authorities that are members of the NLCBF. The YPBMF works alongside the NLCBF to complete an annual work plan with the aims of improving understanding of children in care, improving services and producing advice, information resources and participation opportunities for other young people.

The NLCBF is delivered by Catch22. Catch22 is a social business, a not for profit business with a social mission. For over 200 years we have designed and delivered services that build resilience and aspiration in people and communities.

Our vision is a strong society where everyone has a good place to live, a purpose and good people around them. We exist to ensure that these are achievable for everyone, no matter what their background.

This is particularly pertinent for our work with care leavers. A good place to live, purpose and good people around them provide the best start for young people to embark on their adult lives and achieve their highest aspirations.

Lack of financial education and support with managing finances is an issue that is raised regularly by care leavers; to the extent that it was included in the work plan under the theme of ‘Preparation for adult life’ and was chosen to be one of the key topics to discuss at the YPBMF and managers meetings.

To ensure that young people’s voices are the driving force of this response, direct quotes have been used throughout. The response is based on evidence from 2 events convened in January 2019 that brought together 50 care leavers and 38 professionals from across 29 local authorities. The events explored the questions set out by the Inquiry and focuses on the support offered to care leavers to prepare for managing their own finances.

Please note that the questions asked by the Inquiry have been adapted for suitability to explore in the young people-led sessions. The questions below correlate to 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 of the Inquiry (5 and 6 were not applicable for the sessions).

  • Is it easy for care leavers to get information/education about financial issues?
  • When are care leavers more vulnerable without good financial information/education?
  • How can financial education/information be improved and who should be involved in making things better?
  • Are foster carers well informed and able to provide children and young people support around issues?
  • Are you aware of any good schemes/projects/services which have helped to improve financial education for children in care and care leavers?
  • How are care leavers supported to appropriately manage their child trust fund savings after leaving care?

Two young people who were involved in the consultation events were invited to give oral evidence to the Inquiry on 4th April. They have written a summary of their experiences in a blog.

Summary of findings

  • Access to advice about finances varies
  • Times of transition and having new financial responsibilities for the first time are when young people feel most vulnerable and in need of support
  • Young people want to be taught about life skills and budgeting and ‘what it is like to live in the real world’ in schools
  • Joint working and better training for those supporting young people would help
  • There is lots of positive work, existing projects and online resources that have helped to improve young people’s financial education
  • Knowledge of Child Trust Funds varied; most young people present did not know about them, some knew but weren’t supported in accessing and others knew about them and had received good advice
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