New focus on young people leaving care


We are launching new funding for organisations working to ensure that care leavers are decision makers in the choices that affect their lives.

Spending over £2m a year for at least 5 years, we will support young people leaving care to sustain healthy relationships and to receive more consistent and high quality support from the state.

Applications for funding can be made from Monday 31 October 2016. Guidance on what we are looking to fund can be found here.


As reported in the Government’s recent Care Leaver Strategy, 64% of leaving care services have been judged by Ofsted to either ‘require improvement’ or be ‘inadequate’. In feedback from care leavers for the strategy, the biggest issue raised was “isolation and loneliness; and the difficulty of navigating their way through their late teens and early twenties without a strong and stable social network to support them.”

Informed by evidence from Social Finance’s Impact Incubator, our new funding stream is expected to spend over £2 million each year for five years and welcomes applications which:

  • Ensure care leavers are more easily able to form healthy relationships that help them make a successful transition to adulthood
  • Ensure young people leaving care receive a consistently high standard of statutory support that has been informed by their views.

Funding is limited to the charitable work of organisations, and could be for core or project costs, including staff salaries and overheads. There are no limits on grant size or length, with our median average 2015 grant  being £100,000 over 3 years. Most support is likely to be in the form of grants, but we would consider making  social investments.

Our strategy for this funding stream will also seek to maximise impact for young people by taking a collaborative approach to learning and to influencing policy at a local and national level.

Our new approach to funding work with young people leaving care will take an evidence-based approach to see how, and where, we can increase the impact of our grants and build on what other funders and agencies are achieving.

We’ve always been committed to funding organisations that help prepare young people to leave care. This new approach is deliberately based on evidence of the challenges faced by those young people. It means we can now focus our support on outcomes that matter most.

We will support the organisations we fund to gather evidence, test, and share what works, putting positive outcomes for young care leavers at the heart of our support. We are testing this new approach to funding to identify if there are other opportunities for outcomes based funds across our portfolio.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation chief executive Caroline Mason

Application process

Applications to the  Young People Leaving Care funding stream can be made from 31 October 2016, with the first Young People Leaving Care grants likely to be made early in 2017.