Report: A Way Home Scotland – Improving Care Leavers Housing Pathways
Official statistics indicate that 7% of young people eligible for aftercare have experienced homelessness, but these figures fail to record other forms of hidden homelessness. Further Scottish Government data (2016) shows that at least 21% of young people become homeless within five years of leaving care. Some experts suggest this figure could be as high as 30–50% due to the same problem of unreported homelessness.
The new Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway, ‘Improving Care Leavers Housing Pathways’, sets out achievable, evidence-based steps to prevent care leavers from being affected by homelessness at any point after leaving care. It has been developed by the Coalition’s multi-agency working group and youth steering group ‘Aff the Streets’, in partnership with Celcis, and is informed by their combined knowledge of the challenges facing care leavers.
This is the first pathway produced in response to the HARSAG recommendations and will be followed by other pathways for specific groups identified as being at highest risk of becoming homeless.
The recommendations to improve support for care leavers at risk of homelessness have been welcomed by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.
The report recommends:
- that existing legislation is better implemented for those with a legal duty of care to care leavers to help prevent them from experiencing homelessness at the point of leaving care and later
- that care leavers who experience homelessness are rapidly provided with support which is effectively tailored to their specific needs and circumstances
- that young people are prepared for and supported, with care and sensitivity, through the transition into adulthood
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “This report provides an excellent set of recommendations that provides tangible guidance and solutions to the problems care leavers face finding and keeping a home.
“Young people leaving care are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and we should take all actions possible to prevent them from ever becoming homeless.
“It’s vital housing and children’s services work seamlessly with wider support services to ensure young people’s needs are met.
“We will ensure that we meet the ambitions set out in this report to improve young people’s housing outcomes.”
Tam Baillie, former Children and Young People Commissioner for Scotland and chair of the A Way Home Scotland Coalition, said: “No young person should be homeless and that particularly applies to care experienced young people for whom we have additional responsibilities with legal requirements.
“No parent wants their child to experience homelessness and so it should be for our children in care. We can and should deliver the very best start to their adult life and they have a right to expect we live up to our obligations. Time to make the step-change, here and now.”
Kate Polson from Rock Trust, which assists young people to avoid, survive and move on from homelessness, added: “Scotland has a history of progressive policy and legislation in relation to housing, homelessness and our care system. The recommendations in this report highlight how we implement all of this guidance to prevent young people from entering homelessness.
“The Rock Trust thanks all of the partners who joined us in the A Way Home coalition to write the report and drive forward our work to end youth homelessness in Scotland.”