Decision to allow Welsh fostered young people to stay welcomed – but still a long way to go

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Media release

Leading charities the Fostering Network Wales and Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant today welcomed the Welsh Assembly’s decision to extend the age that fostered young people can stay with their foster carers until 21, but are seeking assurances that local authorities will receive extra money from the Government to fund young people wishing to stay with their foster families.

The announcement will mean that fostered young people in Wales will be able to stay with their foster carers until they are 21, if a local authority decides they need it. However, this does not place a clear enough duty upon local authorities to support the right of fostered young people to stay, which both charities believe is essential to ensure that this change to the law makes a real difference to fostered young people.
 
The charities also welcomed the Assembly’s promise to strengthen the wording of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill at the report stage, to give more clarity to foster carers, young people in care and local authorities, and both charities will continue to support them in achieving this.

Freda Lewis, Director of the Fostering Network Wales, said “We look forward to working with the Welsh Government over the coming weeks to ensure that the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill will promote the best possible outcomes for teenagers in foster care in Wales. We want to see fostered young people in Wales given the right to stay with their foster family beyond the age of 17 and their foster carers supported financially to be able to offer such placements, just as new laws are ensuring for their peers in England and Scotland.
 
“I know that the Deputy Minister shares our commitment to these vulnerable young people, and we welcome her clear statement that she would use Report Stage of the Bill to improve the plans in the spirit of Lindsay Whittle’s amendment. We are really close to making sure that this is reflected in primary legislation and I thank her for taking on board the concerns of her colleagues in the Assembly.”

Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant Head of Campaigns & Public Affairs, Matthew Downie, said: “It’s fantastic that the Welsh Government has recognised the need to extend the age that young people leave foster care - to give them a better start at adult life.
 
“Whilst this is a huge step forward for young people in foster care, there are still some barriers to make this a reality. The main obstacle being that local authorities will not receive any funding to support this ambitious plan, as is the case in Scotland and England. But the cross-party commitment to work on strengthening the law is a fantastic opportunity to give clarification on this issue and achieve the best outcomes for fostered children in Wales. We look forward to working to make sure that the right support is given.”
 
Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant’s report, Chance to Stay - Cyfle I Aros, shows that young people who stay in foster care achieve more qualifications (55%) and are less likely to be involved in alcohol and substance misuse than those who leave by the age of 18.

ENDS
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For media enquiries contact

Dominic Stevenson, senior media officer at the Fostering Network on 020 7620 6425 or media@fostering.net @fosteringnet

or

Kirsty Callingham, news and media relations officer at Action for Children on 02920 222 127 or kirsty.callingham@actionforchildren.org.uk @aslongasittakes

Notes to editors

1. Chance to Stay is a campaign being led by the Fostering Network and Action for Children in Wales 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.

For more information about our work, see www.fostering.net

3. Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant is a charity that supports and speaks out for the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people in Wales for as long as it takes to transform their lives. With more than 100 services we are at the heart of communities - we are where you live and work.

Children are at the centre of everything Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant does. For more information on our work, please visit www.actionforchildren.org.uk.