Care leavers are vulnerable to exploitation and destitution. They deserve protection after the threat of the virus has receded
My daughter has just left home. Well, she has, and she hasn’t: despite the mountain of stuff she took with her to university, her room is still full. And despite her much-anticipated independence, she still phones or texts several times a day. I forward her mail, answer her culinary questions, sympathise at 2am when there’s a loud party keeping her awake and grant access to the bank of mum and dad. She may not be living under my roof, but I am her safety net emotionally, financially and practically. Perhaps I always will be.
This is what virtually every parent offers and what virtually every child expects. Except for foster children: when they become adults, they leave without the prospect of this ongoing supportive relationship. Those who have already lost out on a chunk of their development – through the trauma of neglect, abuse and relationship breakdown – lose out again at the other end of their childhood as they face the world alone. Care leavers begin adult life doubly disadvantaged, often with nobody to cheer them on.