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Evaluation of fostering network Scottish care mentoring projects

Kendrick, A. and Hunter, L. and Cadman, M. (2005) Evaluation of fostering network Scottish care mentoring projects. Working paper. Fostering Network, Glasgow.

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Looked after children and young people are some of the most vulnerable in our society. For Scotland’s Children highlighted the ‘continuing failure of many local authorities as ‘corporate parents’ to provide these young people with the care and education they are entitled to by law’ (Scottish Executive, 2001, p. 10). One of the major issues facing looked after young people is the process of transition from care to independence. It is a time when they have ‘a right to expect the sort of help that loving parents would provide for their children, help to reach their full potential, and the same chance to make mistakes secure in the knowledge that there is a safety net of support’ (Jamieson, 2002, p. 2). However, over a number of years, research has highlighted the poor outcomes for children leaving care. Longitudinal studies which have followed up children and young people in care as part of national cohort studies present the stark contrast in life outcomes between those who have experienced care and those who have not. Cheung and Heath (1994) compare these two groups at age 33. Only one fifth of those who had been in care had achieved O levels compared to one-third of those who had not; only half as many had achieved A levels. Only one in a hundred of those who had been in care achieved a university degree compared to one on ten of those who had not. Two fifths of those who had been in care had no formal qualifications compared to one in seven (Cheung and Heath, 1994). This lack of qualifications converted into lack of success in the job market with three times as many being unemployed (10.8 % compared to 3.6 %) and larger proportions having manual jobs as opposed to professional or non-manual jobs.