It is a fact that in the country, the numbers of young people who leave care tend to be extremely vulnerable to homelessness, social exclusion, among many other negative factors. Most of these young people are often individuals who lack any family relationships that are normally necessary in the establishment of proper guidance as well as stability to ensure their future success within the society. Unlike those young people who have had a normal life where their familial and social relationships are stable, those who leave care without such stability of tend not to be psychologically capable of moving on from care with the educational success that can secure their future. Those with close familial relationships often leave their families later and their future moves are normally planned beforehand so that they know what their next step in life is and how they are going to tackle it. An example of those young people who leave care in a planned way are those who go for higher education, expect to get a job, and afterwards plan to have children. Those who move on from care swiftly have been found to be the one who are more likely not to shun challenges; in fact, challenges are welcome for them. This makes it possible for them to have a high self esteem which also results in their developing the necessary confidence that guarantees their independence. However, there are those who do not have the same advantage within the society and these normally live dysfunctional lives where they have no personal connections with anyone, including family, and these normally end up in situations such as homelessness and social exclusion. The latter is normally caused by the involvement of some of these young people in vices which go against the norms of the society; creating a situation where it is difficult for them to be accepted by the society.
The government should adopt long term, housing-led, integrated homelessness strategies at national, regional and local levels so that the homeless situation among young people can be dealt with effectively. It is a fact that there are a large number of young people who, while living in care, have experienced more disruptions instability, as well as constant movement (Lovell & Gillen, 2007). These individuals have been found in many instances to leave care much earlier than their counterparts and because of few qualifications, they have ended up being unemployed, resulting in homelessness. It has therefore become of massive importance for the government to ensure that the cases of young people in foster care are closely followed, and that these young individuals are kept under constant supervision even after leaving care. One of the most important things that the government can do is to directly address the homeless issue among young people who leave care because this can be a starting point in ensuring that they gain some semblance of stability in their lives. This can be done through the developing of low-cost housing units that these young people can afford and this would go a long way in preventing these individuals from ending up in homeless. Furthermore, it is important for the government to put in place measures that will help young people leaving care to have greater access not only to affordable housing, but also to a number of low skilled jobs that will enable them to have an income. Dealing directly with homelessness among these young people will go a long way in enabling them to become independent faster than if they were left to their own devices.
In order to prevent young people leaving care from becoming vulnerable to homelessness and social exclusion, it is important for the government to provide guidance for them as soon as they enter care. This is the reason why it is important to increase the number of child welfare officers who can not only monitor the development of the young people in their new environment, but also address those problems that these individuals might be facing under care. Welfare officers should undertake their responsibilities very seriously especially towards those individuals who are within their jurisdiction. As representatives of the government, these officers have to perform their tasks in the most professional way that they can so that they can achieve efficiency in addressing the problems affecting young people before they leave care (Cheminais, 2008). When dealing with these individuals, the welfare officers have to provide counseling and any means of support that they can when these young people are going through a crisis that may have come about because of such occurrences as death, or an illness. It is also important for the welfare officers to ensure that they are alert for a breakdown in the foster relationship, and if this is the case, ensure that the child is removed from such an environment before the young person resorts to leave. Addressing the latter problem would be most helpful in the prevention of homelessness among those young people who might decide to leave care early as a result of a breakdown of the relationship between them and their foster parents. If the young people are taken to a new and stable foster environment, it is likely that they will be able to develop themselves enough, through academic achievement and social wellbeing, to be able to become successful in life.
It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that foster parents are provided with enough information concerning how to best be able to take care of and help the young people under their care realize their full potential. Welfare officers should be given the responsibility of providing firsthand information to foster parents on how to deal with their foster children or when the latter observe that a young person is undergoing a problem which may need intervention. When dealing with these young people, welfare officers have to be mandated with the responsibility of providing letters of referral or reports that will help young people leaving care obtain services such as crisis accommodation or social security benefits that are open to them (Selby, 2011). One of the means through which a welfare officer might be able to gain success when dealing with problems that affect a large number of young people who have left care is through getting them into small groups and guiding them in sharing their experiences. It is most likely that such interactions will enable these individuals to support each other and to learn the social skills that will help them function positively in the society. Among the most fundamental duties that have to be assigned to welfare officers is to make sure that they provide assistance to community groups to plan, and carry out programs that have been designed to help young people in care to adjust themselves into the society. The development of effective programs, such as academic and planning programs are essential for the eventual integration of these young people into the society as independent individuals. It is essential for the welfare officers to conduct relevant research on those community problems which might, both directly, or indirectly, affect young people during and after care and attempt to come up with solutions for them through contacting their foster parents as well as looking at the records of welfare and healthcare agencies.
In most cases, it is normally the dire conditions or environments that young people encounter during care that makes them leave it early and without any planning, they often end up being homeless. It should therefore necessary to ensure that legislation is passed empowering welfare officers to act according decisively if they find that those children placed under care are not living in a suitable environment (Modi, Clark, Wolfe, Costello & Budge, 2013). Welfare officers have to be vigilant so that all the young people under care in the country are safe from abuse, neglect and harm within their foster homes. Whenever they get any credible information concerning any harm or risk to a foster child of any age, they should on such information as swiftly as possible so that the safety of the young person can be guaranteed. If a welfare officer believes that a young person under foster care may need protection, the officer has to conduct a thorough investigation and evaluation to ascertain the continued safety of this individual. Despite it being a fact that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that those under foster care are kept from harm, individuals from the public should also take action to ensure that they contact the relevant government agency if there is concern about any foster children they believe is undergoing any harm or is at risk of being harmed. The welfare officers, when conducting their investigations concerning possible abusive environments, have to be ethical by not disclose the identity of the people who have provided them with information concerning the young people in question (Taylor, 2006). Thus, young people under care will be able to live in their foster homes with the confidence that they are safe from any harm, and this is likely to enable them to concentrate on important things in life such as academic excellence and other activities that encourage self development.
The justice system has to be reformed in such a way that any young offenders that are convicted of minor crimes should be given another chance to make their lives right. While the justice system has been designed to try and discipline juveniles in ways that are distinctive from adults, there are certain times when controversial sentences are handed down to young people and when they have served their sentence, these individuals find it difficult to reintegrate into the society (Taylor, 2006). It is understandable that some people would seek to have the young offenders receive a harsher punishment for their crimes, especially considering the high number of crimes being committed by them. The juvenile justice system has been changed so much to the extent that it is almost indistinguishable from the adult justice system. The question of whether it is time for the juvenile justice system to be reformed for the purpose of ensuring that young people who leave care are protected from social exclusion should be seriously considered. While it is a remarkably easy thing to try and sentence juveniles as adults, it is an exceedingly rare thing for those responsible to think of the consequences of their actions. One would say that juvenile crimes are not justified by such sentences because when juveniles are sent to prison, they are exposed to an environment which can turn them into hardened criminals. Instead, the government has to develop proper surveillance programs on young offenders as an alternative to putting them in custody (Morton, 2005). In addition, a new range of community sentences have to be created as a means of ensuring that young offenders are not only kept out of prisons, but that they also pay for their crimes in a more constructive manner. The government should also develop a system where there is a wide range of residential placements that include intensive fostering for young persistent offenders whose lives can be changed for the better through the love and attention that they deserves.
The fact remains that the increasing vulnerability of young people leaving care is a real crisis in England and Wales as they are exposed to the likelihood of ending up homeless as well as being excluded from society. In order to deal with this situation, it is necessary for the government to ensure that it is actively involved in the process so that the solutions can be implemented more effectively. There is the need for there to be adequate funding and effective policies to ensure that this problem is dealt with swiftly and efficiently. It has been found that some of the government policies have been fundamental in the addressing of the intricate causes of homelessness and social exclusion among those young people who leave care at an early stage without any plans for their immediate future.
Cheminais, R. 2008, How to Achieve the Every Child Matters Standards: A Practical Guide. Available at:
Lovell, C. & Gillen, S. 2007, ‘Public inquiry needed into failure of reforms to system’, Reed Business Information UK, Sutton.
Modi, N., Clark, H., Wolfe, I., Costello, A. & Budge, H. 2013, “A healthy nation: strengthening child health research in the UK”, The Lancet, vol. 381, no. 9860, pp. 73-87.
Morton, S. 2005, “Community safety in practice – key issues for the Every Child Matters agenda”, Community Safety Journal, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 14-18.
Selby, M. 2011, “Child protection and safeguarding”, Practice Nurse, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 32-39.
Taylor, A. 2006, ‘If we think we can relax on Every Child Matters we are deluded’, Reed Business Information UK, Sutton.