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Care leavers covenant delayed until New Year, says Timpson

The children’s minister has pledged that the Care Leavers covenant mooted by the government back in May will be launched in the New Year.

The covenant, which will set out the entitlements of care leavers in law, was anticipated for launch in October to coincide with Care Leavers Week, which ended 31 October.

However, speaking at The Prince’s Trust National Care Leavers’ Week Conference, Edward Timpson revealed that he was “working towards a formal launch of the covenant in the new year”.

Former prime minister David Cameron announced the plans back in May, saying the first care-leavers’ covenant would be introduced in the form of a promise, set out in law, to everyone who has been through the care system.

The covenant will be designed to ensure that local authorities set out clearly what care leavers are entitled to locally — including housing, jobs and healthcare. The care leaver covenant is a voluntary document and is intended to set out how corporate parenting principles will apply to local authorities.

Yet at the conference last week, Timpson said “we can’t expect local authorities to do it all” and there is a moral obligation on central government, other public bodies and the voluntary and private sectors to play a role in supporting care leavers too.

“That’s why we’re introducing the care leaver covenant - to provide a way for any organisation that wants to make a pledge to support care leavers’ transition to adulthood, to do so,” said Timpson.

The DfE is working to encourage all of the government departments that deliver services and support to care leavers to sign the covenant, setting out what their individual offer to care leavers is.

It is also urging government departments to offer internships to care leavers and is encouraging businesses to sign the covenant too, offering care leavers work experience opportunities, traineeships and apprenticeships and has identified a number of employers who are keen to get on board.

He also revealed that plans are in place to trial Staying Close arrangements for young people leaving residential care before the end of the year.

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