My name is Dave, I am married with two young children from my second marriage and three older children now all at University from my first marriage. My wife Lisa and I have been fostering now for just over 5 years and during this time we have had numerous placements and have had to deal with the challenges they all bring.
We are currently approved for 2 short or long term placements for 5 to 18 year olds and one respite placement. Our story is just under two years ago we received RW a young 16 year old when she finished her GCSE's we discussed with our local authority the need to support her post 18 as she would be slap bang in the middle of her A levels. At one point during the last two years RW was sat in the lounge in tears not knowing whether she would be here after her 18th Birthday or whether the LA would be putting her into a bed and breakfast as has happened to so many others. This has had a very negative impact on her during the hardest years of her schooling. resulting in her not getting her expected grades.
After lots of toing and froing she is now staying with us post 18. We spoke to LA about messing with her mind at her most important time of her life. They initially disagreed and stated she would be out of the placement at 18. Now they say she can stay in our care until she starts University but will have to claim housing benefit and income support and pay her own way for the placement. This was told to her the day after her 18th birthday!
We have said fine we will take part for time being and we will support her through next summer and her return at out of term time as she would have nowhere else to go if we did not. This impacts greatly on the household financially but we felt we had no choice otherwise RW would end up either staying in an empty university or coming back and staying in a bed and breakfast between terms.
We could not let this happen.
All RW wants is to feel she has a home. Due to the difficulties between her and her Mum that would not be an option so either we do what we can or LA put her into bed and breakfast. I explained to the LA that my older children still live at home, with their mother, and they are 22, 20 and 20. The average age is now 24 and yet a young 18 year old is going to be expected to survive on her own. As RW told us "you know I would not go to school or survive don’t you Dave and Lisa" if that phrase did not tug on our heartstrings we should not be fostering.
To join Dave in the campaign to support young people to be able to stay in foster care until the age of 21, visit the Don't Move Me website.