All children in care will be able to stay with their foster families after they turn 18 following a £40million funding boost and a new legal duty on councils to provide support.
On 4th December; the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove announced that he intends to place a new legal duty on local authorities to provide support for every young person who wants to stay with their foster parents until their 21st birthday – giving local authorities £40million over the next three years to put the support arrangements in place.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, whose own family fostered nearly 90 children, said:
“I know from the many foster children I grew up with how crucial it is for them to be given sufficient time to prepare for life after care.
“A growing number of local authorities already offer young people the choice to stay but with little financial support it can be challenging for their foster families. Now all councils will have to follow their example, and we are giving them £40million towards the cost.
“This is a further reform to our much wider package of support for care leavers including changes to the rules so 16 and 17 year olds remain in care until they are ready to move out and much greater financial support for young people leaving care at 18.
“This will allow the 10,000 young people leaving stable and secure homes to make the transition from care to independence when they are ready, rather than when their council tells them to.”
Children in care typically have much lower educational outcomes and are more likely to be out of education, work and training. The announcement is the latest in a series of reforms the government has made to improve outcomes for young people leaving care.
Once legally adult, young people can no longer be children in care and can therefore not be fostered. The new clause to the Children and Families Bill, to be laid during Third Reading will give young people in care the opportunity to remain with their former carers into legal adulthood, enabling them to move to greater independence when they are ready, rather than when they reach a pre-determined age limit. The details of the proposal will not be available until the amendment is laid in parliament.
It will not become law until April 2014 which means that there is no immediate change to the way in which care leavers are assessed for support post 18, and the current situation.
Information supplied by FosterTalk