The Children’s Services Development Group (CSDG), a coalition of independent providers of specialist education services and care for children and young people with complex needs, was concerned by the considerable lack of support for vulnerable young people once they reach the age of 18. CSDG found that essential support was being withdrawn or lacking at this point, leading to many young people ‘tumbling over a cliff-edge’ as they entered adulthood, with devastating consequences. This was counter to what they, as providers, wanted for the young people their teams had worked hard to support to achieve positive life outcomes, as well as being against the ambitions set out in government legislation and policy commitments.
A thought leadership campaign was developed to address this issue, focused on evidencing the disconnect between the government’s ambition for care leavers and young people with SEND and the reality of their experiences, and using this to call for policy measures that would provide enhanced support for vulnerable young people.
Through a mixture of primary and secondary research strong evidence of negligible support for these young people was found, which identified the detrimental impact this was having on their life chances. This evidence and research was used to build a strong narrative for the case.
Local authorities, the DfE, charities and other campaign groups were proactively involved in our work to build a groundswell of support that could be reflected in our final policy report. We also gathered case studies to make sure real stories of young people were at the heart of the campaign, bringing the stories of eight young people to the fore.
A detailed policy report with 12 core policy recommendations was developed and launched at a parliamentary panel event chaired by a former Children’s Minister. The panel included a recent care leaver who shared their experiences, as well as a local authority representative, a longstanding campaigner, and a leading academic. The launch event was attended by MPs, peers, government officials, representatives from local authorities, Ofsted, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, charities and campaign groups.
We generated important coverage of the report in target trade media, developed an open dialogue with DfE officials, and secured a meeting with the Children and Families Minister to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations. As a result, CSDG has been positioned as a thought leader in this space and the principle voice calling for positive transitions solutions for young people. We are now focused on ensuring that our recommendations are taken forward to better support vulnerable young people.