Why we need to support our care leavers
"I have been a foster carer for 21 years and have always fostered teenagers. As you can imagine it can be challenging but I love my life working with these youngsters.
"I currently a 17 year old lad who will be 18 this month and faces the prospect of living out there in this big wild world on his own and he is afraid.
"He can clean, iron, work and sort of cook, so a lot feel that he may be ready to cope with life after us but it not easy out there sitting in a flat on your own. I personally feel that he would benefit by staying longer to build confidence in himself, he won’t answer a door if he at home on his own, he hears noises and thinks the worst. He was attacked quite severely and this has had a lasting effect on him, he gets in before dark, he won’t walk to the local shop after early evening.
"He has completed a year at college and is now an apprentice at a scaffolding company and will not complete this until October, and that will be an NVQ2. He would need to do a further year to gain his NVQ3. This is more reason that I feel he should have the opportunity to stay in our care until he is qualified, he has even offered to help pay towards his keep.
"As carers we feel that the youngster who seem to do everything right lose out. He has listened to advice and is learning to look after himself but then is faced having to leave his only security.
"The pressures of working and having to cope with everything else to live a normal life it is hard.
"The youngsters in care that I have worked with feel that they would benefit from staying in the system beyond their 18th birthday. They feel that if only they could have stayed they would not be in the mess they are in now.
"I hope that the law is changed so that we can carry on supporting vulnerable teenagers for as long as they need to be supported. Not just until they’re old enough to be put in their own flat."