Too much too young

Young people who have particular needs, such as poor mental health, behavioural difficulties, and disabilities are the most likely to become homeless and have the most severe and costly outcomes later in life, like unemployment and prison. But right now they are the very people being failed by the state.

Our report Too much too young shows that something is going very wrong for the most vulnerable young people who have been in care.

After leaving care I was homeless. I slept at lots of different places – family, friends' sofas or in a tent, anywhere that I could get really
Carl, care leaver

Our report is based on research with young people and practitioners across England and Wales. It contains recommendations for elected and public bodies in England and Wales based on the evidence.

What did we discover?

We found that:

  • the most vulnerable young people experience the highest levels of instability and uncertainty;

  • emotional well-being should be our starting point. Without it, practical support is not enough for the most vulnerable young people;

  • young people need long-lasting relationships they can trust, to help them manage living independently and bounce back when things go wrong;

  • returning home or maintaining links with birth family can be complicated;

  • every part of the state and its services takes some responsibility to behave as a good corporate parent but too often, systems not designed for vulnerable young people leaving care create more instability.

What needs to happen next?

We're calling for the state to:

  • prioritise the emotional and mental health of children in care and care leavers;

  • keep children safe when they return to their family after care;

  • not give up on young people when their lives are at their most challenging.

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