Aims Smooth and successful transition to adult life is an important focus in care planning for young people who are Looked After. As surrogate parents, local authorities should ensure young people are appropriately prepared and supported throughout this challenging phase. This research sought to gain young people’s perspectives on whether this is currently being achieved in our area.
Methods A survey of Looked After young people aged 12–15 years was carried out in 2013, covering various aspects of preparedness for transition and thoughts about the future. Questionnaires were completed by young people either alone or with support from their school nurse. Out of 84 young people eligible, opportunistic sampling resulted in 38 responses.
Results 79% reported feeling positive about their futures. Many described specific aspects they were looking forward to, often relating to employment and independent living, while 5% found the prospect of future independence worrying. Many had high aspirations, with nearly half hoping to go to university. Being healthy, earning plenty of money and having children were also popular ambitions.
General ‘life skills’ education in schools was reported to be mostly helpful (including about healthy lifestyles, smoking and staying safe), with additional advice often obtained from adults outside school. However, information on some topics was viewed less positively, for example around money management and sex and relationships, with a number of young people wishing for more advice in these areas.
In terms of independent health-seeking skills, 82% reported knowing where to obtain general health advice, but only 69% knew how to seek sexual health advice. Worryingly, some nurses felt that this question was not relevant to all their young people.
Conclusions This research suggests that overall our young people feel well prepared for becoming independent adults. However, not surprisingly, some anxiety still remains. Despite 92% reporting having enough information to help plan their futures, over a quarter felt they would benefit from additional guidance. As well as offering individualised support, it is important that general ‘life skills’ education is delivered effectively. Further consultation is required to determine whether schools, carers or professionals are best placed to facilitate this.
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