The Fostering Network Wales has welcomed yesterday's historic vote in the Senedd which gives young people living with foster families in Wales the right to stay beyond their 18th birthdays.
However, the charity is continuing to highlight the importance of the Welsh Government pledging extra money for local authorities to ensure that the reality for young people reflects the proposed law's intention.
AMs demonstrated significant cross-party support and voted to accept three amendments to the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill. The proposed change in the law follows the Chance to Stay campaign led by the Fostering Network and Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant.
Freda Lewis, director of the Fostering Network Wales, said: "Fostered young people in Wales too often have to leave their foster family by the time they are 18, while the average age for others leaving home is 24.
"This change in the law is fantastic news, in that it gives young people the right to stay with their foster families beyond their 18th birthdays, if they and their foster carer agree. It also makes clear that local authorities are required to provide financial support to foster carers for such ongoing living arrangements. We would like to thank the deputy minister, Gwenda Thomas, for listening to the concerns and experiences of foster carers and young people, and for supporting these amendments.
"However, we have consistently made clear that we believe that extra Government funding is needed to help local authorities in delivering this financial support to foster carers. We will continue to campaign for this, because without extra money this change to the law is in danger of just becoming a noble intention that does not translate to reality for young people."
Yesterday's vote means that young people in Wales will be joining those in England and Scotland who will shortly have a legal right to stay with their foster carers beyond the age of 17, thanks to campaigning by the Fostering Network together with foster carers and young people. Those in education, employment or training in Northern Ireland are already entitled to stay.
For media enquiries contact the Fostering Network press office on 020 7620 6425 or firstname.lastname@example.org @fosteringnet
Notes to editors
1. The Chance to Stay campaign, led by the Fostering Network and Action for Children, was set up to fight for fostered young people in Wales to be allowed to stay with their foster carers up to 21.
2. The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in fostering, and exists to make life better for fostered children and the families that look after them.