For the first time, a report collates evidence from 12 countries across four regions of the world, detailing the ways in which young people with alternative care backgrounds cope with the challenges of becoming self-reliant and are supported by the state and other actors on their path towards decent work and social inclusion.
In the midst of a global youth employment crisis, young people ageing out of alternative care are especially at risk of poverty and social exclusion, due to the lack of family relations and networks that many young people increasingly rely on well beyond the age of majority.
It is urgent that social forces partner up to empower young care leavers all along their path towards self-reliance and that governments devise public policy responses to address their special challenges – this is the call for action arising from the findings of the global report Decent work and social protection for young people leaving care.
The report is launched today at a multi-stakeholder panel discussion hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany, SOS Children’s Villages International and Deutsche Post DHL Group at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
A new look at the situation of care leavers
The study, developed by SOS Children’s Villages International in collaboration with University College London Institute of Education, collates for the first time evidence from 12 countries across four regions of the world, detailing the ways in which young people with care backgrounds cope with the challenges of becoming self-reliant and are supported by the state and other actors on their path towards decent work and social inclusion.
Despite national differences in terms of economic and social development, care leavers everywhere have a similar story in common. These young people, who transition out of the alternative care system into independent living after their 18th birthday, face the same struggles and issues as any young person who steps into adulthood, but this is compounded by the vulnerabilities of growing up without parental care, either temporarily or permanently.
Adding to the issue is a frequent lack of decent work opportunities for care leavers, making it even harder for them to forge independent lives. This is due to factors such as discrimination, unequal educational and vocational training opportunities to raise employability, insufficient regulations governing working conditions as well as social benefits and services.
Ongoing protection of these young people during and after their placement in alternative care and targeted support measures for their socio-economic integration are vital to reduce the risk of being disadvantaged or discriminated against with regard to other young people.
There is also a lack of official data and monitoring around the topic of young people leaving care, which currently limits the ability of states and organisations to understand problems and develop responses to adequately support care leavers.
Groundwork for change
Ultimately the report aims to increase the knowledge and understanding of the needs and rights of young people ageing out of alternative care around the world, in order to inform strategies, laws, policies and services to improve their life chances and outcomes through appropriate preparation for leaving care as well as after-care support.
As governments strive to fulfil international commitments to ensure by 2030 universal access to education, vocational training, decent work and social protection, particularly for the most vulnerable, this study is timely, and includes evidence-based recommendations to ensure that young people all over the world do not fall through the cracks of the system and fall behind on the opportunities that are in reach of their peers.
Our approach to empower young people
SOS Children’s Villages is committed to promoting education, participation and key steps to support self-reliance for children and young people who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care. We empower them to actively participate in all stages of the leaving care process, to know their rights, and to be listened to seriously when they voice their opinions and concerns. This amplifies their message, giving them a stronger influence in discussions with policymakers, NGOs and corporates as they work to find solutions to the specific challenges faced by young people ageing out of care.