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After Leaving Care

What we have heard about life after care

Later experiences

Some children in care may have moved away from their home communities or faced the challenge of returning home or moving into the community.

Nothing made sense out there.

We heard about the experience of people who left care for independent adult life, usually between the ages of 14 and 16 years. A common theme was how ill-prepared young people felt on leaving care. This was reflected in descriptions of their circumstances after leaving care, which included homelessness, crime and substance use problems.

It was as if they never wanted us to have a chance at a better life.

Many talked about not having the social skills to manage and having nobody to turn to for support and help. In some cases, social services were described as reluctant to provide support – financial or otherwise. The absence of a loving family and the support that should have been taken for granted were particularly apparent in these accounts.

...nowhere to go, nobody to turn to, just me...I was desperate, I was hopeless, I was helpless, and I thought there was nothing for me."

Some talked about being institutionalised and not having even basic skills for managing adult life – from managing a budget, running a house, cooking, to dealing with official bodies.

You need to follow [the child's] future...this will haunt them...they will need time, support, guidance...be prepared to help them for many years.

You can read more about what we heard from people about their experiences after leaving care in the full report.

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