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ACCELERATE TO INDEPENDANCE: ‘After Care Guarantee’ in Youth Care via Personal Budget
Start date: Apr 1, 2015, End date: Mar 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

BACKGROUND Social exclusion and poverty among young people has grown over the course of the economic crisis and project partners are actively involved with this initisative in providing answers to the Youth strategy Field of Action "Social Inclusion". It aims first of all at contributing to the EU’s roles of addressing the issues of homelessness, housing, and poverty AND promoting access to services. Our final beneficiaries - young people from residential care facilities - often lack a strong family or social network to fall back on. A considerable number of homeless people has lived in their young life in an youth care institution. A significant number of them became afterwards ‘structurally homeless’ and lifelong unemployed not being able to organize all aspects in their lives in a decent way! This is often not a matter of the quality of the care, but due to an ineffective guidance in the transition of youth care to young adultness. The gap after youth care is for many vulnerable youngster to big. Current research, reports and policy briefs conclude that many homeless persons have a past in the youth care. They usually focus on the lack of means, strategies and instruments of the youth care service providers to avoid this process of becoming structural homeless but not enough attention is given to the specific needs and questions of the youth in question. GOAL Therefore the project aims at analyzing, involving stakeholders, youth workers and vulnerable people in a first light but relevant process of designing and experimenting youth after care mechanisms based on personal budget. This goal will be reach with and be targeted to authorities, service providers and their workers and vulnerable young people. ACTIVITIES The project will be structured around 4 workpackages: WP1: PROJECT COORDINATION, with 3 transnational project meetings and connection with Advisory Board. WP2 - PROMOTION AND DISSEMINATION, based on 2 Multiplying Events and targeted to authorities, service providers, representatives of the beneficiaries and their relatives, support structures who regularly will meet in the context of the Special Youth Care Platform, EU representatives. WP3: YOUTH CARE GUARANTEE – THE WAY TO GO, where a preliminary concept of a Model of the Youth Care Guarantee will be developed. Partners will work together on identifying alternative means of reaching young adults that make a transition from institutionalized care to independent adulthood. They will investigate current possible trajectories for young people that assures their rights to care, support and societal participation after youth care. This phase will deliver I.O. 1: Model of a Youth Care Guarantee – FIRST VERSION. WP4: YOUTH CARE GUARANTEE – FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE . This Work Package will be based on 2 complementary activities: ACTIVITY 1: Focus Groups in Belgium, Austria, Italy, will be arranged in order to review and provide feedback on evidences delivered during WP3. I.O.1, thus helping the PPs to translate it into a first operational tool. Focus Groups will involve targeted youngsters, care givers and authorities. ACTIVITY 2: A small pilot will be run in Belgium: a virtual budget for these young adults to manage. Participants will be asked to assess what they need to fully participate in society after they’ve left care. This will have the form of a ‘personal plan’ with concrete aims, services needed and a (virtual) financial budget. At the end of these activities, partners will deliver a Reviewed Model of Youth Care Guarantee with Recommendations and Roadmap (final I.O.1). The main TARGET GROUPS of the project are: managing authorities (national, regional and local), service providers (public and private, including their professionals and youth workers), young people. 1) IMPACT ON PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS: increased level of knowledge about steps to be undertaken to adopt after care schemes based on personal budgets 2) IMPACT ON AUTHORITIES: increase their knowledge and awareness on after care schemes 3) IMPACT ON SERVICE PROVIDERS: increased awareness levels about the possibility of introducing youth after care mechanisms and increased responsibility in promoting youth rights for after care services 4) IMPACT ON YOUNG PEOPLE: increased awareness of the potential of after care schemes and increased capacity of "managing" and "using" mechanisms which support their independence. In terms of long term benefits we expect to be able to introduce mechanisms which will finally guarantee the rights of vulnerable young people to be better supported also after 18 thus reducing the risk of permanent vulnerability and exclusion.
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