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Close digital divide for care leavers

 

New has revealed that Covid-19 has further deepened the impact of digital exclusion for Scotland’s care leavers

A call has been made to close the digital divide for care leavers.

Research published this week by CELCIS has revealed that Covid-19 has further deepened the impact of digital exclusion for Scotland’s care leavers.

With lockdown restrictions requiring more access online – from education to banking, socialisation to entertainment, and all important health advice – any digital connection denied through lack of IT kit, broadband or WIFI, or digital literacy, risked these young people being even more isolated, potentially preventing them from access to vital information and services.

Working with local authorities who have a corporate responsibility for young people transitioning from their care, a team at CELCIS at the University of Strathclyde, and the University of Edinburgh, reviewed what has been happening over the last four months and the existing barriers to inclusion.

Bridging the digital divide for care experienced young people in Scotland: If not now, when? explores how the local authorities have responded to these specific needs during this time, and the impact on the health, wellbeing, and rights of care leavers. It identifies employment, finance, mental health, education and rights and participation among the key concerns in addition to the role digital connection now has in daily living.

It concludes that digital access is a key rights and inequality issue which has been amplified during the pandemic but that many of the solutions to improving digital inclusion have already been identified. What is required is a co-ordinated and concerted activity at national and local levels to implement these.

It recommends six key actions: that digital inclusion must be viewed through the dual lenses of rights and participation; that the provision of hardware /connection and ongoing support be prioritised; IT and digital policies should be care-proofed; that action taken to allow people have access to hardware should be explicitly detailed; that support plans explicitly reference and address any need and remove any barrier in relation to digital inclusion; and that the Connecting Scotland project should be expanded to allocate dedicated tailored funding for care experienced young people experiencing digital exclusion and create a simpler way to access provision and support at local level.

You can view the full findings online.

 

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