what support do

care leavers need?

1. Guidance and support

Students who leave care are almost always the first in their family to attend university, and usually do not have adults in their lives who can help them navigate the logistical challenges of university study, and access resources they are eligible for.

 

What universities can do to help:

  • Nominate a dedicated support coordinator who will discuss any academic, financial, accommodation or administrative concerns throughout their time at university

  • Ensure support is made explicit on the university website

  • Ensure that student service staff understand the specific needs of care leavers

 

 

2. Safe housing

 Finding safe, year-round housing is the most critical factor in enabling kids leaving care to access – and stay at – university. Over 30% of care leavers experience homelessness within 12 months of leaving care. With no adults behind them, young people leaving care may not have the money to pay a bond, and often have difficulty navigating the rental system.

 

What universities can do to help:

  • Provide guaranteed 365 day residency in university-owned accommodation

  • Subsidise rent or offer accommodation start-up bursaries

  • Waive bond at University-owned accommodation, or make arrangements for bond to be paid in instalments

  • Provide help with finding off-campus accommodation

 

 

3. Financial assistance

Care leavers have few resources, and have difficulties navigating their entitlements. As a result, they may struggle to cover costs of rent, textbooks, fees and any unexpected expenses.

 

What universities can do to help:

  • Provide specific scholarships and bursaries

  • Provide information about any other scholarships and bursaries for which commencing care leavers might be eligible, and assist in the application process

  • Provide no-interest emergency loans to care leavers

 

 

4. Mental health services

Young people leaving care are more likely as their peers to have mental health problems during their time at university. The usual stress of university life is compounded by the absence of social support networks, financial insecurity, and childhood trauma, neglect and disruption.

 

What universities can do to help:

  • Nominate a dedicated support coordinator to discuss general concerns throughout a care leaver’s time at university, and provide information about specific university services as needed

  • Ensure care leavers are provided with information about the counselling, workshops and online resources available at the university

  • Ensure that staff are educated about the specific needs of care leavers

5. A community to call their own

Care leavers lack social support structures, and can find university a lonely and stressful experience, and may feel that their peers do not related to the particular challenges of their university journey.

 

What universities can do to help:

  • Encourage commencing student with foster care experience to make themselves known to the university

  • Develop a structured mentoring program that connects commencing care leavers with current students who have spent time in care

  • Provide explicit information about opportunities for care leavers to connect on the university website