The Voices of Young People Leaving Care During Covid-19
New research published by Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), in partnership with SSESW colleagues Berni Kelly, Colm Walsh and John Pinkerton, has documented the difficulties facing local young people who are leaving care during the current pandemic. ‘The Voices of Young People Leaving Care During Covid-19’ study highlights additional challenges faced by those aged 18-25 years as they try to move towards adult independence with social restrictions in place.
These challenges were the focus of a virtual roundtable discussion on 17 February, ahead of VOYPIC celebrating its annual Care Day. The event saw practitioners and decision makers identify strategies for better supporting young people leaving care. This included looking at solutions to combat the negative experiences faced by those young people leaving care during the Covid-19 pandemic including isolation, a lack of face-to-face contact and routine, and mental health concerns.
Berni Kelly commented: ‘This research gives voice to the experiences of young people leaving care during the pandemic, highlighting what worked well but also how services need to improve to offer care leavers more consistent support during lockdown and to address their mental health needs. We urge practitioners and policy makers to use the ten key messages from young people in the report to develop more effective supports for care leavers during the ongoing pandemic.’
VOYPIC Chief Executive, Alicia Toal (pictured), said agencies should now prepare for ‘an expected rise in the number of children and young people coming into care following current lockdown’.
This comes after recent reports of a drop in the number of referrals to Gateway during the first Covid-19 lockdowns, followed by an increase following lockdown. Last month, members of the Stormont Health Committee heard how the average number of referrals between May and December 2020 was consistently higher than pre-Covid levels.
To read the full study report visit ‘The Voices of Young People Leaving Care During Covid-19’. A short version is available at ‘Young People’s Report’.