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Care Leavers

Volume 447: debated on Friday 16 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the new regulations and guidance announced by his Department in Northern Ireland on 25 May 2005 to improve services for young people leaving care. (77310)

The Children (Leaving Care) Act (NI) 2002 and supporting regulations and guidance came into operation on 1 September 2005.

The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) appointed a Regional Implementation Project Officer in September 2005 to contribute to the successful implementation of the Children (Leaving Care) Act, by ensuring that a framework is established to support the development of consistent standards and practices across Northern Ireland, so that young people leaving care are afforded optimal life chances as they make the transition to independent living. A number of working groups are currently working on the implementation of various aspects of the legislation taking account of both the guidance and regulations. A complete baseline analysis of the leaving care population was undertaken at the end of September 2005. This analysis will be repeated at the end of September 2006.

On 8 June 2006, the Department hosted a ‘stock take’ conference. This provided an opportunity for Health and Social Service Trust leaving and after care teams to share their experience of the new legislation and the implementation process to date. The Department will also host an assessment seminar on the implementation of the legislation in November/December 2006, i.e. roughly one year after the introduction of the legislation. The views of young people affected by the legislation and other stakeholders will be sought on all aspects of the legislation including the operation of the regulations and guidance.