Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent, Coram’s Director of Operations, said:
“We know all too well from our work in advocacy, supported housing and legal support, how pressing the need is for children and young people to be able to move into adulthood, work and education, seamlessly and safely. However, all too often this transition for young care leavers has been abrupt, and bewildering.
“Our growing concern is the rise in homelessness that we are seeing among young people leaving care. Coram is finding that local authority children’s services are refusing to designate young people leaving care as care leavers – a status which confers entitlements, including to housing support. And because they don’t have care leaver status, they are not entitled to access their local authority’s advocacy support.
“So many then find themselves living in unregulated supported accommodation, others find themselves homeless; rough sleeping or sleeping on the sofas of people they barely know. For this already vulnerable group, the situation is unacceptable.
“Coram supports these young people to overturn their local authority’s decisions and get somewhere safe to live. We call on all local authorities to recognise their responsibilities to all the children and young people in their care, so that fewer suffer the distress of homelessness in the future.
“Finally, we particularly encourage local authorities to take note of the Committee’s reminder that they have a duty to commission independent advocacy services. Advocacy provides a safety net for children in care and care leavers. But in too many cases, authorities are ignoring this duty, leaving vulnerable young people with nowhere to turn to when things go wrong.”