Access All Areas

Access All Areas was an initiative to promote more joined up Government and an end to the unintended elephant traps in policy which make it unnecessarily difficult for Care Leavers to succeed in attaining settled lives and achieving educational and career goals.  Access All Areas was the direct predecessor of, and paved the way for, the Department for Educations's cross Government' Strategy on leaving care.

The Unique relationship between State-as-parent and Care Leavers:why we should care.

Access All Areas was about encouraging Government Departments to work together to remove the unintended consequences of a fragmented approach to policy. Care leavers are affected just as much by policies which emanate from the bigger Government Departments as they are by children's policy as delivered by DfE.
In 2012 The Care Leavers' Foundation enlisted the help of leading charities NCAS, The Prince's Trust and a National Voice to bring together a coalition of thirty organisations with an interest in care leavers with the purpose of beginning a coordinated approach fromthe sector to Government to call for better 'care proofing' of a wide variety of policy areas.

All of the charities involved in Access All Areas are proud to have conducted this ground-breaking work which successfully began the cross Governmentall conversation that is essential for the healthier, happier and better supported lives and opportunities for all care leavers.  

The following reports were produced and presented to a Roundtable cross-departmental meeting in April 2012 and discussions about the detail of the recommendations from Access All Areas remain ongoing.
View main Access All Areas report
View supplementary reports: Access All Areas. A Developmental Perspective; Access All Areas. A Research Perspective
When the State decides to take on the responsibility for parenting children who cannot live safely with their birth family it creates a unique relationship between the child and the State-as-parent that is not replicated anywhere else in the many relationships that exist between citizens and their Government.
In order for a person to achieve successful independence they must first have experienced a significant relationship of responsible and responsive dependency. Many children in care did not have this as an infant or growing child; many fail to find it during their time in care. This sense of reliable dependency can be created by individuals and institutions. If we work together  to sustain a reliable and dependable network of systems and individuals upon whom care leavers  can rely when they are in need the end result will be stronger and more independent care leavers as they grow through their twenties into full adulthood.
Many of the barriers which continue to make it so much more difficult than it needs to be for care leavers on their journey towards adulthood and independence reside in generic policy that is targeted at the overall population of adult citizens.
Care leavers may carry many negative beliefs which they bring with them from childhood which continue to influence them consciously and subconsciously throughout their lives. These subtle and often unconscious psychological processes affect career, relationships, and every aspect of adult life. Systems which punish instead of supporting can do a great deal of harm when care leavers are in their twenties as they reinforce rather than replace negative messages.
The State as parent needs to align its policies across all relevant Departments so that it provides a predictable, supportive and transparent set of expectations and institutions for the delivery of services that care leavers will need as vulnerable young adults. It needs to recognise that far from costing more, this approach will bring economic benefits, both immediate and in the longer term. Improving the coherence of whole Government support for care leavers in their most crucial final steps towards adulthood will not increase dependency but will create a firm foundation from which real and sustainable independence can be achieved.
The state cannot and should not be a forever parent for care leavers. It can and should be a better and a more thoughtful parent for care leavers as they make their transition through the final developmental stages of adolescence from 15 through to 25, and remain a vigilant, if more distant, parent to its care leavers throughout their first crucial decade after leaving care.
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