To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report Crumbling Futures published by the Children's Society in March 2018, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds referred to children’s services are receiving adequate support as they transition into adulthood.
We welcome the findings in the Children’s Society ‘Crumbling Futures’ report and agree that this is a difficult and important transition. The government is committed to ensuring that vulnerable children are ready for adult life and is taking action to ensure that services protect and support children. We recognise the importance of avoiding ‘cliff edges’ in support for the most vulnerable children and the offer of support from local authorities now extends to all care leavers up to 25. ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ makes it clear that when children on Child Protection Plans reach 18, local authorities should consider whether support services are still required.
As a priority, we are taking forward a review of the educational outcomes of Children in Need. This review and call for evidence, which was launched on 16 March 2018, is looking at the quality of support provided to all Children in Need including 16 and 17 year olds. We will consider the full range of views we receive in response to the call for evidence, including any around transition to adult services.
We are delivering a major programme of reform to improve the support provided to Children in Need. As set out in ‘Putting Children First’ (2016), we are working to improve the quality of the workforce, develop and spread innovative practice, and improve the quality of local authority children’s services. We are also using the Department for Education’s Social Care Innovation Programme to trial programmes to improve the quality of support for adolescents, including assessing how early help and contextual safeguarding can help protect them from the specific threats they face.
A key finding of ‘Crumbling Futures’ is that the mental health needs of children and young people appear to be one of the main issues affecting older adolescents as they progress into adulthood. The new Mental Health Support Teams proposed in the government’s Mental Health green paper will provide significant support to 16 to 18 year olds in schools and colleges. The Department for Education will also test how the teams can support vulnerable 16 to 18 year olds and other young people not in school or college, such as those in apprenticeships and other work-based learning. Additionally, the Department of Health and Social Care is setting up a new national strategic partnership with key stakeholders focused on improving the mental health of 16 to 25 year olds by encouraging more coordinated action, experimentation and robust evaluation.