Young people who have grown up in care are far more likely to die in early adulthood than other young people according to a BBC report today.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show 90 people who left care in the UK between 2012 and 2016 died in the years when they would have turned 19, 20 or 21. Care leavers make up one per cent of the population at these ages, but make up around seven per cent of the deaths.
Responding to the figures, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: 'These figures are a stark reminder of the challenges that many young people leaving care face, and that, as a society, we owe it to them to do all we can to make the transition to independent adulthood as smooth and successful as possible. Given that young people are increasingly remaining at home for longer, post-19 care schemes such as Staying Put, Continuing Care and When I Am Ready are vital.
'These schemes allow young people to stay living with their foster carers until the age of 21 or beyond, meaning the transition to adulthood can be more gradual and better supported. The stability, security, love and support that staying with foster carers offers means that young people can focus on building adult relationships and taking the steps they need to be able to fulfil their potential in adulthood. Unfortunately, these schemes are not being sufficiently funded by the governments of the UK or consistently implemented at a local level, meaning that too few young people are currently able to stay with their foster carers.
'These figures also highlight the need for increased investment in mental health services for looked after children and care leavers. At a time when budgets are tight, we must not allow young people's mental health to be a casualty of austerity.'