This report sheds new light on the prevalence and nature of vulnerability for 16 and 17 year olds, building a picture of the needs of vulnerable young people around risks, resilience and mental health, relationships and resources. It highlights how current practice is falling short for children identified as ‘in need’ and how this may be contributing to poorer outcomes in early adulthood. It also makes recommendations about what can be done to improve the response to vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds, focussing on better assessment and more holistic and longer-term support stretching into early adulthood. The report is based on analysis of responses to two Freedom of Information requests to local authorities focussed on data collected through the children in need census 2016–17 that is specific to 16 and 17 year olds and focussed on outcomes for children in need, including into their early adulthood when they are 18 to 20 year olds. In addition, we have undertaken an analysis of data from three waves of the Understanding Society survey – Wave 2, Wave 4 and Wave 6 – tracing the presence of risk factors and vulnerabilities in the lives of around 800 children, starting when they were 14 or 15 years old to when they reached early adulthood as 19 and 20 year olds.