The Programme seeks to transform the resettlement of 16-18 year old custody leavers. The Government's own research suggests that if young people in custody were assessed under section 17 of the Children Act (1989), many would be found to qualify for services under that Act, including the provision of accommodation and maintenance as looked after children. These young people would then benefit from the recent reforms to the statutory framework for the care system in England and Wales found in the Children and Young Persons Act (2008).
The Government's programme is designed to ensure children and young people receive high quality care and support. The Act introduces new measures, which include:
- A duty on the Secretary of State to promote the well being of children in England; and
- A requirement on local authorities to take steps to secure sufficient accommodation in their area that is appropriate for the needs of children they look after.
However, the powers of this Act will not be fully utilised unless young people in custody are also able to benefit from them. Research clearly shows that numbers of teenagers return from custody to the community with complex, unmet needs. They are placed in unsuitable accommodation with insufficient support, inadequate Pathway Plans, and little hope of achieving any improved long-term outcomes. In fact, statistics tell us that the recidivism rate still stands at around 78%, and that at least 60% return to custody for a 2nd time - 6% returning at least 5 times.
This is due in part to young people not having access to tailored support services to assist them as they grow from adolescent to adult. Resettlement UK aims to support change in these practices through the Leaving Care - Leaving Custody Programme.