Care leavers so at risk of homelessness they move home — charity

Some young people leaving care are at such a high risk of homelessness that they are returning to the family settings which led to them being placed in care in the first place.

The claim was made by Dublin-based Don Bosco Teenage Care Housing Association, which said it knew of at least four young people who had moved home on leaving care at 18.

The CEO of Don Bosco Care, Brian Hogan, said the situation highlighted the need for more after-care support for care-leavers, who previous studies have found are at an increased risk of becoming homeless.

Mr Hogan said the current situation had been exacerbated by the phasing out of bed-sit type accommodation in parts of Dublin City and by climbing rents.

“Our outreach workers are saying it is damn nigh impossible to find accommodation for them,” he said of the teenage clients leaving care.

“We know of four young people who are back living at home, which we would prefer would not happen.”

He said some of the young people affected had an intellectual disability and like many care-leavers, were at risk of loneliness and isolation.

Mr Hogan also said that returning back to fractious family setting was also “precarious”.

She added: “It takes very, very little for these young people to be out of their homes again. We need to catch them as they are exiting the care system.”

Previous studies, such as those carried out by Dr Paula Mayock of Trinity College Dublin, have highlighted the increased risk for care-leavers have of becoming homeless.

Speaking earlier this year to the Irish Examiner, the Minister for Justice, who was then Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, said she wanted to see an element of positive discrimination applied in the cases of care-leavers, so that it would be easier for them to access accommodation and benefits.

Mr Hogan said this was “laudable” but that while efforts had been made, that system was not in place.

A spokesperson for EPIC (Empowering People In Care) said the organisation was also aware of recent care leavers struggling to secure accommodation.

Karla Charles said EPIC was aware of a 20-year-old woman who, while in need of some support, had been capable of looking after her two children until she became homeless, prompting her to place the children in care.

EPIC has called for the provision of step-down accommodation for care-leavers.

Yesterday, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast released details of a study which showed that on one day in 2009, 8% of ‘Looked After’ children were living with their birth parents but still subject to a care order, despite the fact that care orders were issued where children were found to have suffered harm, or are likely to suffer harm, at home.

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