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14 October 2014, 06:00
A new report by Action For Children claims young people in the North East who suffer from mental health issues are being let down by the care system.
The 'Too Much, Too Young' report found one in three vulnerable young people is leaving care aged just 16 or 17, in sharp contrast to new polling which shows that nearly half (48%) of people in Newcastle believe 21 or older is the right age to move out of the family home.
John Egan, operational director children's services in Newcastle for Action for Children, said:
"Young people who have had traumatic early lives, who struggle with learning disabilities or mental health issues are the ones who need the most care, but the state is turning its back on them.
It's ludicrous that teenagers who are still dealing with the legacy of abuse and neglect have to cope with adult responsibilities, like building a stable home, at an age when most of their peers are supported by parents.
If we don't rethink care so it acts less like a system and more like a parent then these problems won't go away."
While young people in foster care can now stay until they're 21, many of those most likely to become homeless do not have the kind of stable placements that make this possible and leave much younger.
In residential care the leaving age is still only 18.
Action for Children is calling on all political parties to rethink the role of the state as a parent for children in care so that it:
* Prioritises the emotional and mental health of children in care and care leavers
* Keeps children safe when they return to their family after care
* Doesn't give up on young people when their lives are at their most challenging.