Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Greater support needed for young people leaving care

21 August, 2006

Sinn Féin's health spokesperson, John O'Dowd MLA, has said that figures released by the Department of Health today demonstrate that greater support and assistance needs to be provided for young people leaving care in the North.

Mr O'Dowd said,

"The figures released today show that just over a third (37%) of former care leavers aged 19 were known to be in education, training or employment. This compares to a rate of 86% of all 19 year olds in the North in education, training or employment.

"The department's figures also show that over one in four (28%) of young women leaving care had become parents.

"These figures would suggest that there is a need for the Department to invest in developing accessible services for these young people, many of whom still remain vulnerable and at risk. Such services should focus on the development of these young persons personal skills to promote individual knowledge and skills so that people can have greater control over their own lives.

"The Department could kick-start the increased availability of much needed services for young people leaving care by encouraging and securing long term funding for voluntary and community initiatives.

"It is also important that such services which provide support with practical help are widely accessible and non-stigmatising." ENDS

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