The Scottish Government has recently asked for views on their proposed Care Leavers Payment. As Scotland’s national mentoring programme for children and young people with care experience, our Fund Manager Christine was in a unique position to gather valuable insights from the young people this will affect. Here’s what she found out…
In my remit as both Fund Manager and Policy and Participation Manager, I have got to know the young people mentored by intandem and involved in our youth forum InVoice well over the past year. I wanted to ensure their voices and experiences were heard by key decision makers for the proposed Care Leavers Payment.
With experience of kinship care, foster care, residential care and looked after at home the young people of InVoice will be directly affected by the proposed new payment. I knew we were in a unique and privileged position to be a trusted representative where young people with care experience could express their honest views and we could gather some real valuable insights for Scottish Government.
What young people think of the proposal
The proposal, a one-off payment of £2000 to young people moving on from care, was considered a positive step as part of work towards keeping The Promise, an initiative in Scotland that every child in Scotland will grow up loved, safe and respected. The young people and our partner organisations felt it could help reduce some of the financial barriers young people face while moving on from care particularly around accommodation and employment.
One young person commenting “I had to leave home and ended up in homeless accommodation, it was very stressful. £2,000 would have meant I got myself on my feet much quicker”.
Another mentioned “I live in residential care, and the one thing I’ve always worried about is not having enough money to move out. Or having the money to move out but not keeping up with it.”
However, the young people were clear it comes with the risk of being spent unwisely, and it could even be harmful in terms of giving young people the means to make poor life choices or be exploited by family and friends.
Getting it right for every child means flexibility
The key ingredient to the success of this proposal is offering flexibility. What works for one young person might not work for another so flexibility around how young people can access the payment and when, and ensuring there is support available from a trusted adult at all stages is important.
Eligibility criteria should be widened to include young people looked after at home. One young person commented “I want to emphasize to the Scottish Government that all care experienced people should have this opportunity because we all went through care. Yes, there are different types of care but at the end of the day we’ve all had to deal with the care system, it doesn’t matter what part of the care system you’re in.”
Another young person commented “it doesn’t seem fair that looked after at home wouldn’t get this payment. They still have to go to meetings, go to Hearings, and they might be living in a toxic environment at home and really unhappy. They need this payment.”
The opportunity to speak directly to young people and gather the extensive experience from our partner organisations was extremely valuable. The experience of young people in care differs greatly, but it’s clear they need a helping hand as they transition into adulthood. While there is much to iron out around the detail of this proposal, when asked whether a payment of £2,000 at the point of moving on from care would be helpful, one young person commented “really bloody helpful by the way”. This sentiment was echoed across our partner organisations and the other young people we consulted.
Read our full response here.