The first stage of our Don’t Move Me Campaign saw the law in England, Scotland and Wales change to allow care leavers to stay on with their foster carers, but it is not working in practice. More needs to be done to give young people the best chance of stability in their early adulthood.
What’s the problem?
Young people are missing out on the chance to stay living with their foster families after they turn 18. Although there is now provision in the law for young people to stay until they are 21 across the UK, financial and cultural barriers mean this is not happening often enough.
According to our 2018 State of the Nation survey:
- A third of foster carers have been prevented from offering a post-18 arrangement because of local policies and payments, despite the young person wanting to stay.
- Many of these could not afford the reduced income the arrangement offered. The vast majority of foster carers that did enter a post-18 arrangement did so at their own expense, with 82% accepting a reduction in their overall income.
- Another reason so few young people are staying on in their foster placements is simply that foster carers and young people are not aware of the policy in their area or the option is not introduced early enough in the planning process. This is part of a cultural problem within fostering services which have not embraced staying put as the norm and are not doing enough to support young people and foster carers to decide if it is right for them.
- 31% of foster carers who had entered a post-18 arrangement said they received no additional support or training.
‘I am looking at Staying Put for my current placement, but to be able to afford to do so, I will need to increase the amount of hours I work externally.’
What’s the solution?
There should be an expectation that young people can remain living with their foster families until the age of 21.
It should be guaranteed that post-18 arrangements will not be financially detrimental to foster carers. We believe a minimum post-18 allowance, sufficient to cover the cost of looking after a young person, should be introduced to enable more young people to stay on in their placements.
Fostering services need to do more to make foster carers aware of their policy for post-18 care and to introduce it early in the planning process. They should also do more to involve young people in decisions about their next step.
In 2018 we published Staying Put: An Unfulfilled Promise in response to the latest figures for Department for Education. We are calling on the Westminster Government to review, cost and fully fund Staying Put.
Read about the difference post-18 can make in this blog.
How can you help?
Experience of post-18 care
If you have experience of offering a home to a care leaver, or of being unable to, please get in touch.
Make a donation
Please make a donation to support our campaigning work, including our campaigning around post-18 care.
Episode 8 - Staying Put: An Unfulfilled Promise
We discuss The Fostering Network's latest report - Staying Put: An Unfulfilled Promise - which looks at Staying Put legislation four years on from its introduction in England to see how well it is enabling care experienced young people to remain living with their former foster family.