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Health Inequalities

Drivers of inequalities

In this section we draw attention to some of the main drivers of inequality in youth health. There is a range of economic and social factors that combine to influence young people’s health outcomes, which are known as the social determinants of health.

One in five secondary school aged children are eligible for free school meals

Care experienced young people

A significant proportion of children who are looked after by the Local Authority are teenagers. In England in 2020, 31,370 young people aged 10-15 and 19,020 young people aged 16 and over were in the looked after category at the time of an annual census in March 2021 (Department for Education, 2021).

Chart D3 demonstrates that there are more looked after children in areas of high deprivation. This chart was constructed by finding out how many looked after children there were in each local authority area in 2021, and matching this to each area’s average deprivation ranking from the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). You can find out more about how we did this here.

Looked after children are more likely to have poorer health, educational and social outcomes. It has been reported that 60% of looked after children have some level of emotional and mental health problem (CYP Health Outcomes Forum, 2012).

Chart D3: There are more Looked After Children in areas of high deprivation

Care leavers are a group who often need extra support, and who can face particular disadvantage as they navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood. For example, care leavers are 4 to 5 times more likely to attempt suicide in adulthood (CYP Health Outcomes Forum, 2012).

Legally a ‘care leaver’ is someone who has been in the care of the Local Authority for a period of 13 weeks or more spanning their 16th birthday. Unlike the data on looked after children, the relationship between the number of care leavers and the level of deprivation based on the local authority area where they live is less clear. Chart D4 shows there is no linear relationship between local authority area deprivation status and the number of care leavers, for either young people aged 17-18 or 19-21. This could be for several reasons, including the fact that when they are free to do so care leavers may move from the area they were brought up in.

Chart D4: There is no relationship between the number of care leavers and the level of deprivation of the Local Authority where they live

All data correct as of 1st May 2022