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Local authority services are under the obligation to provide services to the unaccompanied children through two provisions of the Children Act 1989 – section 17 or section 20. Section 17(1) states: ‘It shall be the general duty of every local authority to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in needâ€¦by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs’.
Also under section 17 which states that, a local authority may arrange for someone else to act on their behalf to provide services. By another word, a local authority may allow a voluntary organisation to provide services. Also Section 20 obliged and places a duty on a local authority to ‘care’ any child seems to need such level of service. In addition, section 20(3) states: a local authority is required to provide accommodation for any child in need within the area working in. On the other hand section 20 is to provide full leaving care services to children, under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000; this act aims to support the asylum children in their transition towards independence. Therefore it is designed “to enhance the children’s chances of young people living in and leaving care” and to do best effort to replicate parent’s support. The act make the leaving care age from 16 to 18, also placing on the local authorities to provide advices and full support for care-leavers up to the age of 21, and sometimes 24 for young people in full-time education. Overall, the Leaving Care Act indeed aims to increase the duties and powers of the Children Act, and according to, now local authorities perform an assessment to the needs including accommodation, health, education, some skills like independence and financials skills. Local authorities are responsible to provide care-leavers with suitable a personal adviser, who has an obligation for introduction of good advices needed.
A legal entitlement of the care leavers was the target of the Leaving Care Act and improving the leaving care services to better support in their transition to full independence. The Leaving Care Act obliges the local authorities to appoint personnel advisor to each care leaver, moreover one of Act aims is to ensure that young people do not leave care until they develop enough experience and become ready to meet their adulthood. Also the act seeks to ensure there is an effective support when they leave care.
The ‘Connexions’ service and specialist leaving care workers carry out the function of the personnel advisors. Some other local authorities presented the leaving care services by establishment of partnerships with voluntary organisations . However, practice. Unfortunately The local authority doesn’t always have a specific leaving care team who is responsible to provide the required services, therefore social workers do all the leaving care work and preparing them towards adulthood. It is strongly recommended that the unaccompanied children with 16 and 17 year of their ages should be under the care up the age of 18. As mentioned above one of the aims of the Leaving Care Act is to ensure young people did not leave care early and at the stage where they are not ready. It is found that although there is a specific legislation and policy concerning this process, there is evidence that care-leavers are expected to be independent at early stage of their independence age . Government statistics show that 34 per cent of care-leavers in March 2002 were living independently at 19 years of age. In accordance to the research done with British care-leavers, it reported that the average age at leaving around 16 and 17 which regarded as significantly young age compared to age normally people leaving home which is about 23 years old. Number of young people leave care at a significantly younger age while government statistics are showing a relatively high per cent about 34 of the care leavers in March 2002 who leaving towards independence at the age of 19.
In addition the Leaving Care Act directs the local authority ‘which has the responsibility or agency that has been used by the local authority for the purpose of service provision’ to make an assessment to the various needs of young people with consideration of giving best advices and possible assistance, also this will be of value regarding the preparation of the pathway plant for good future. The assessment should be done to address: education, the development and medical aspects, employment and training experiences, financial supports and other family supports and other types of relationships, and practical skills required for independence including needs for accommodation. Recording of both the needs assessment and pathway plan are required under the Leaving Care Act. It is recommended by the Department of health that the planning it needed to start as earlier as possible and made according to the outcome of the assessment of the person’ existing state. Another important point is the empowerment of the young person in the process, so the hopes of the young person should be taken in consideration.