The Department for Education / Care Leaver Covenant

Supporting care leavers to live independently and lead meaningful and fulfilling lives with the Deptartment for Education​

The Department for Education is the government department responsible for children’s services, education, apprenticeships and wider skills in England. With an annual budget of over £50 Billion, the DfE works with 18 agencies and public bodies, including Ofsted, CITB and the Student Loans Company. The DfE created the Care Leaver Covenant in 2017 and the following year selected Spectra as the Covenant’s national delivery agent.

In the UK around 70,000 children are in care (about 0.1% of the population) and around 10,000 young people leave local authority care every year.

Current support structures for looked-after-children and care leavers are not sufficient, leading to negative outcomes like the following:

  • Around 40% of care leavers aged 19-21 are unemployed Vs. 14% of the general population
  • Around 25% of the homeless population are care experienced
  • Over 25% of both the male and female prison populations are care experienced

The Care Leaver Covenant, launched officially in October 2018 under Minister Nadhim Zahawi’s Executive Sponsorship, was established to create an infrastructure of support for care leavers from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Organisations sign up to the Covenant and work with Spectra to create practical and meaningful opportunities for care leavers.

Opportunities sit within five key outcome-areas: independent living, access to employment, education and training, safety and security, mental and physical health support and financial capability.

Alongside opportunity creation, the Covenant aims to shift societal perception of care leavers and champion collective responsibility towards young people who have grown up, in many cases, without their birth parents and without stable relationships and living conditions.

In April 2020 Spectra was reselected to keep delivery the Covenant. Going into our second term of the project, over 130 organisations have signed up and published offers on the Covenant app and website that represent potentially thousands of opportunities – particularly in employment and training – for our young people.

The Covenant’s signatory network is diverse, reflecting a strong desire from the business community to support care leavers: from London’s Old Vic Theatre to Liverpool FC Foundation, leading national charity, Barnardo’s and British broadcaster, ITV.

The Covenant’s signatory network is diverse, reflecting a strong desire from the business community to support care leavers: from London’s Old Vic Theatre to Liverpool FC Foundation, leading national charity, Barnardo’s and British broadcaster, ITV.

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