Children in Care Profile

The challenges facing care leavers

Every year, around 10,000 young people in England aged 16-18 leave local authority care. Each of these young people face huge challenges and considerable vulnerabilities as they move into independence without the support of close family.

Young people in care have often had difficult lives and have to start living independently much earlier than their peers. Of children in care, 62% are there because of abuse or neglect. This can have a significant and lasting impact on their mental health and emotional well-being. In 2013 in the UK, 50% of all young people were still living with their parents at the age of 22; however, young people have to leave care by their 18th birthday and some move straight into independent living. Many care leavers feel they leave care too early.

Care leavers face many challenging social problems

Research shows that young people who have had a background in care are more likely than their peers to have poor social outcomes in later life;
33%
have experienced homelessness
About one-third of young people with care backgrounds experience homelessness at some stage between 6 and 24 months after leaving care

4x
likely to have mental health problems

Care leavers are four times more likely to have mental health problems

1 in 4
homeless people been in care during their lives
In 2010, 25% of those who were homeless had been in care at some point in their lives

5x
more likely to self-harm

In 2012, it was reported that looked-after children and care leavers were between four and five times more likely to self-harm in adulthood

40%
aged 19-21 were NEET

In 2016 40% of care leavers aged 19-21 were not in education, employment and training (NEET) compared with 14% of all 19-21 year olds

6%
likely to access higher education
Care leavers are less likely to access higher education (6% compared to 47% of general population)