In 2014 The Fostering Network led the campaign to get the law in England changed to allow care leavers to stay on with their foster carers until 21. This new law was called Staying Put and it has fantastic potential to provide stability as young care experienced people move into adulthood. However, statistics consistently show that it is not working in practice and much more needs to be done to turn the promise of Staying Put into reality.
What’s the problem?
Young people are missing out on the chance to stay living with their foster families after they turn 18. Although the law says young people can remain under Staying Put until they are 21 if both parties agree, financial and cultural barriers mean this is not happening often enough.
According to our 2018 State of the Nation survey:
- 34% of foster carers have been prevented from offering a Staying Put 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 Staying Put arrangement did so at their own expense, with 83% 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.
A third of foster carers who had entered a Staying Put arrangement said they received no additional support or training at all.
‘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.’
The latest Department for Education figures regarding Staying Put show that in 2017 1,630 out of 3,170 care leavers in England aged 18, who were eligible for Staying Put, did so. This represents 51% of the total. However by the time they had become 19 years old in 2018, there were only 970 out of 3,180 (31%) eligible young people left in Staying Put arrangements: 660 of these had now left their former foster home. This is not what we anticipated when we campaigned for Staying Put and is not good enough.
What’s the solution?
- We are calling on the Westminster Government to review Staying Put and ensure it is properly costed and fully funded. It should be guaranteed that Staying Put will not be financially detrimental to foster carers. A minimum Staying Put allowance should be introduced to enable more young people to stay on in their placements and foster carer’s fees should continue to receive a fee when they enter a Staying Put arrangement.
- Fostering services and local authorities need to do more to make foster carers aware of their policy for Staying Put and to introduce it early in the planning process. They must provide training and support to meet the needs of those offering Staying Put arrangements.
We need to create a culture where it is the norm, not the exception, that young people stay on with their foster family after 18, just like their peers who are not in the care system. The change to the law in 2014 was a huge step forward but, to give those leaving foster care the best possible life chances, staying put must be properly implemented and funded.
How can you help?
Tell your Member of Parliament why this is important to you. We have prepared a letter to explain the situation; adding your own experience to it will make it even stronger and encourage your politician to take action. If you are not a foster carer, please be sure to amend the opening sentence.
Find out who your MP is and send the letter by clicking on the link below and entering your post code.
Make a donation
Please make a donation to support our campaigning work, including our campaigning around Staying Put.
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.