In the two-year project ‘Prepare for Leaving Care’, SOS Children’s Villages is teamed up with partners to develop and deliver training for care professionals and elaborate policy guidelines to help ensure that child protection systems adequately support young people leaving alternative care. ‘Prepare for Leaving Care – A Child Protection System that Works for Professionals and Young People’, a two-year project co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union (2017-2018), aimed to ensure that the rights of young people in alternative care are respected and that they are prepared for an independent life.
Research such as the recent publication Towards the right care for children has shown that insufficient preparation can have a detrimental effect on a young person’s transition to independence. Care professionals do not always have the necessary training to best assist young care leavers, and adequate frameworks are often missing to support young people during the leaving care period.
‘Prepare for Leaving Care’ built on the experience of the project Training Professionals Working with Children in Care, and specifically addresses the rights and needs of young people on their way to adulthood and independence. The project was carried out in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages’ national associations in Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Spain, as well as experts from CELCIS and Eurochild.
Key project outcomes
- A ‘Prepare for Leaving Care Practice Guidance’ has been developed, including a training methodology and manual based on evidence collected in five EU countries. The Practice Guidance provides practical guidance to care professionals and a range of front line practitioners. The main focus is on how to best plan the transition to independence with and for young people and support them both during and after the leaving care process.
- Through a ‘train the trainers’ approach, 14 master trainers have been empowered to apply the developed tools and methodology widely in all five participating countries.
- To date, 433 care professionals have received training on how to embed a child rights based approach into their daily work.
- National policy guidelines are elaborated to raise awareness and push for the development of a comprehensive Leaving Care Framework. Based on learnings from project activities, these guidelines define how training can be integrated into existing frameworks.
Participation of young experts
The participation of young people with first-hand experience in alternative care has been central to the success of this project. Young experts, aged 16-27, from all five participating countries have provided input throughout all activities, drawing on their personal experience and the challenges they faced while preparing to leave care. In total, 169 young people with care experience have been involved in project acitivites of which 19 have been directly engaged as co-trainers at national level, delivering the Prepare for Leaving Care training to care professionals.