Earlier this year the Government introduced the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement for care leavers aged 18 and over to remain with foster carers up until their 21st birthday.
The aim is to provide greater stability and transition into adulthood and prepare young people for further education and employment.
According to Government figures (between April 2013 and March 2014) only 4% of care leavers remained with their former foster carers.
Jackie Sanders, director of public affairs at The Fostering Network, believes the ‘Staying Put’ law is essential to provide greater opportunities for young people and prepare them for their future.
“It’s vital that local authorities now implement their statutory duty in England and we look forward to seeing an upturn in the number of young people staying put in years to come,” she said.
Paul Adams, foster care consultant for the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) said he felt “optimistic the number of children staying in care for longer would be much higher in one or two years”.
“What we’re hearing is foster carers and professionals are very positive about it,” said Adams. “It’s an issue which has frustrated people for a number of years”.
New statistics from The Department for Education has shown an increase in the number of looked after children in England. The number currently stands at 68,840 looked after children in England, but continues to rise and is now higher than at any point since 1985. The main increase is for children aged 10-15 and 16+. The report also showed that of the 27,220 former care leavers aged 19-21, 38% were not in education, employment or training.
Young people expected to remain with foster carers for more than 3 years
However, figures from The Fostering Network has revealed almost three quarters of foster carers looking after young people aged 16 or over expect them to stay for more than a year, with 40% expecting them to stay for more than three years.
If this is the case, hopefully the new ‘Staying Put’ arrangements will allow foster children to stay in foster homes for longer and increase the number of young people in education and employment.
As Paul Adams highlights “There is evidence to show that a stable placement makes it more likely someone will be in education, employment or training.”