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OC3 - Former Care Leavers in Northern Ireland

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This statistical bulletin presents information from the OC3 survey of former care leavers at their 19th birthday. The OC3 survey collects data on the economic activity, contact with social services and living accommodation of young people who have left care. It also includes information on their age and gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, length of last placement in care, legal status and last placement in care.

The survey was first introduced in Northern Ireland in 2004, and this bulletin presents the results of the fourth collection for the year ending 31st March 2009. The main findings from the 2008/09 survey  indicate some improvement in the circumstances of the young people compared to those in previous years. In particular, the proportion of former care leavers with whom Trusts had maintained contact increased from 89% in 2005/06 to 97% in 2008/09.

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ERRATUM: Please note that the information previously published for 2005/06 has been revised due to a corrected coding error noted during the production of the 2007/08 statistical bulletin.

Key Findings from the 2008/09 survey indicate:

  • 201 former care leavers who had been looked after on 1st April 2006 had reached their 19th birthday during 2008/09; of these, 107 (53%) were boys and 94 (47%) were girls.
  • Just over one in seven (15%) of these former care leavers were coping with disability; of whom just under two thirds (63%) had a learning disability.
  • Just over a quarter (26%) of female former care leavers had become mothers on or before their 19th birthday, 13 percentage points less than the proportion in 2007/08.
  • In 2008/09, the average length of time spent in the latest period of care was slightly longer (7 years 4 months) than in 2007/08 (6 years 10 months).
  • Trusts were in contact with 195 (97%) of the 201 former care leavers in Northern Ireland, 8 percentage points higher than in 2005/06 (89%).
  • Between 2007/08 and 2008/09, the proportion of all former care leavers in education, training or employment increased by 9 percentage points, from 43% in 2007/08 to 52% in 2008/09. However, this is similar to the proportion in 2005/06 (53%).
  • Of those with whom Trusts had contact and for whom economic activity was known, 56% were in education, training or employment, 9 percentage points more than 2007/08 (47%), but 5 percentage points less than in 2005/06 (61%).
  • Young men and young women differed in the types of accommodation in which they were most likely to be living; with a higher proportion (35%) of young women than young men (25%) living in independent accommodation. In contrast, 35% of young men were living with parents, relatives or friends, compared with 23% of young women.
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