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The Children’s Society has reported a significant gap between the services available for 16 to 17 year olds. Deemed “too old” for children’s services but “too young” for adult services, children are left vulnerable and at risk of harm.

Support for children on “Child in Need” plans stops at aged eighteen. However, it is reported that fewer than 3% of these children are referred on to adult services. In addition, there is no legal requirement for Local Authorities to put in place a plan to support these late teens in their transition into adulthood.

The Children’s Society is campaigning with 12 other children’s charities for a cross-governmental body to develop a coordinated response for vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds who are in need – but not taken into care.

Such children can be at risk for many reasons such as; mental health, substance misuse, domestic violence they have witnessed or experience, periods of missing from home and exploitation.

Today, the Children’s Society launches “Transitions to Adulthood”. This event is being launched at the House of Commons.

Nick Roseveare, the chief executive of the Children’s Society, speaking with the Guardian said, said:“Too often, support for young people living complex lives falls short and then all of a sudden disappears on the day they turn 18, while they continue to struggle with issues including mental health, criminal and sexual exploitation, poverty and homelessness….While that means ensuring local organisations including councils have the additional money they need to offer this support, a coordinated plan across government departments is also required.”

The gap identified by the Children’s Society paints a worrying picture. Whilst these children may not be meeting the need for the most serious stage intervention and support at present, without help being identified to meet their needs they are being placed at serious risk. It is therefore hoped that the campaign launched by the Children’s Society creates a new focus on these vulnerable, young adults. It is so important that we invest in our young people to give them the best possible chance as they transition into adulthood.

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