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Home > Left out on their own: young people leaving care in Ireland; executive summary.

Kelleher, Patricia and Kelleher, Carmel and Corbett, Maria (2000) Left out on their own: young people leaving care in Ireland; executive summary. Dublin: Focus Ireland.

This is the first national study of young people leaving care in Ireland. The vast majority of care leavers come from a background of poverty and social disadvantage. The special school population was ten times more likely than the general population to live in local authority housing, with the health board leaving care population having a figure of eight times greater than the general population for the same statistic. Young people with a Traveller background made up 9% of the health board population and 12% of the special school population whereas the Traveller community makes up only .4% of the population nationally. On average care leavers leave school at an early age and with a low level of education qualifications. Six months after leaving care less than a quarter of the health board population and only 15% of the special schools population were at work at a time when nationally the unemployment rate was 10%.

The study showed that many young people in care experience great emotional trauma such as violence in the home, sexual abuse, alcohol and drug addiction in the home and loss of a parent through separation or death. Almost one quarter of the special school leavers and two-fifths of the health board leavers had a special need, where special need was defined as a physical disability, learning disability or mental health deficiency. Six moths after leaving care, 33% of the health board population and 30% of the special school population had experienced homelessness. Two years after leaving care 65% of the special school population had been in a place of detention or prison. The study indicates that after care the circumstances for young people are bleak, with many left to manage the difficult transitional period from the ages of 18 to 25 on their own. The study concludes that the issue of care must be seen in the context of child poverty, and that the support available for care leavers needs to be rethought, leading to a more successful outcome for young people.


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