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Education and training targets not right for everyone
Catch-all government targets to encourage young people who have been in care into education and training are not right for everyone, according to research sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). A study led by Jennifer Ward, of Goldsmith College, University of London, looked at vulnerable young people who had lived in care and were establishing themselves as independent adults. It found that while a few were progressing smoothly, most were facing challenging situations and circumstances. These were commonly linked to past experiences, although dealing with the responsibility and practical aspects of living independently also proved testing.
The study says that some young people from care are capable and keen to participate in education or training and should be supported in doing so. However, some will not be ready to take up the challenge until later in their lives. These should instead be supported to approach it when they feel ready – in some cases, not until their mid to late 20s. While it is said that young people in general are making drawn-out transitions to adulthood, the same cannot be said of those who have been in care, says the report. It was clear that adulthood, or at least taking on adult responsibilities, not only happened at a young age, but also at a rapid rate. New situations and developments were sudden and seemed to pile up on top of each other. Key milestones which signify becoming an adult, such as getting a job, setting up home and managing domestic life, normally happen in some sort of order, says the report. However, it found that young people with backgrounds in care were trying to juggle a range of responsibilities and challenges at the same time. These new things to cope with had come about overnight on moving to their own accommodation. The study points out that the impact and difficulty of these coinciding challenges had often not been anticipated.