“Growing up”: Reviewing our approach to transitions to adulthood

Featured article - 28 May 2019
Sam Royston. Director of Policy and Research at The Children’s Society

Young man smiling

Managing household finances for the first time is hard. Getting help to fix a broken boiler or a mouldy ceiling is hard. Finding a job, and keeping it, is hard. Working out what to do when you lock yourself outside your house is very hard (I’m still not sure…).

Moving into independent adult life is hard for anyone, but especially so for the one in five older teenagers experiencing five or more complex issues in their lives- on top of all the day-to-day challenges mentioned above.

Simply not having enough money to cover the cost of your rent. Being caught between child and adult mental health services. Facing sexual or criminal exploitation. Desperately trying to reconcile your immigration status. Being ordered to attend court for non-payment of council tax.

Greatest challenges - Least help

These are challenges that could lead anyone to feel like they simply cannot cope – even if they have access to some level of support. However, too often those who face the greatest challenges also have the least help. That’s why The Children’s Society worked with several leading charities to put together “Transitions to adulthood” – a collection of essays on different areas of life that challenge young people as they move into adult life.

It is crucial that social care professionals support older teenagers to plan for their move into adulthood, (including those on the edge of the care system who, despite facing complex challenges, receive no care leaver support as young adults.) It is good that the latest version of the working together guidance has reiterated the need for this.

Central government departments also need to take this challenge seriously. No single department can take this on alone, since any solution to addressing multiple disadvantage in young people’s lives will require a co-ordinated response. That is why we want the Government to form a cross-departmental taskforce to look into transition planning for older teenagers.

Young people facing the most difficult circumstances are often the most resilient – they have to be. However, the challenges they face are simply too hard. For many, it can seem like they’re being set up to fail.

Moving into adult life should be an exciting time filled with possibilities. Challenging, yes - but not hopeless. A cross-departmental taskforce is our opportunity to restore hope and make this transition work for all young people.

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