All children in care will be able to stay with their foster families after they turn 18 following a £40 million funding boost and a new legal duty on councils to provide support.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson announced today that he is placing a new legal duty on local authorities to provide financial support for every young person who wants to stay with their foster parents until their 21st birthday - giving local authorities £40 million over the next 3 years to put the support arrangements in place.
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 £40 million 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.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of reforms the government has made to improve outcomes for young people leaving care.
Working with councils, local authorities and voluntary organisations such as the Catch22 National Care Advisory Service, the Care Leavers Foundation, and the Share Foundation, we have:
- launched the ‘Charter for care leavers’ - a contract between local authorities and young people leaving care - which sets out the support they can expect right up to the age of 25, with over 120 local authorities now signed up
- introduced the Junior Independent Savings Account for all care leavers, with over 40,000 accounts now open with a £200 contribution from government
- published the cross-government care leaver strategy, which sets out in one place the steps government is taking - from housing to health services, from the justice system to educational institutions - to support care leavers to live independently once they have left their placement
- written to all local authorities asking them to dramatically improve financial support for care leavers, resulting in tripling the number of councils now paying £2,000 or more through the Setting Up Home Allowance
- improved accountability by publishing an annual data pack, outlining statistics on care leavers’ education and employment status, and from this autumn, Ofsted’s local authority children’s service inspection framework will place extra emphasis on the outcome of care leavers
- introduced the pupil premium plus for all children in care from day one of their placement, increasing the amount the schools receives by £1,000
- placed a duty on every council to have a ‘virtual school head’ - an individual who champions the education of children in care and acts as their overarching head
Early indication of the government’s reform programme has shown an improvement in outcomes for young people and we expect to see further progress.
Notes to editors
- 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.
Recent statistics on looked-after children show a 3.1% increase in the number of local authorities offering ‘staying put’ arrangements and a 2% reduction in the number of care leavers not in education, employment or training.
View the care leavers’ charter and the 2012 care leavers’ data pack.
Download the care leaver strategy.