Welsh Government: do the right thing for fostered young people in Wales

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Media release

The Fostering Network Wales is calling on the Welsh Government to ensure that the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill places a duty on local authorities to allow and support fostered young people to stay with their foster carers beyond the age of 17, ahead of a crucial vote on the Bill tomorrow (Tuesday 11 February).

Freda Lewis, director of the Fostering Network Wales, said: “We want the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill to place a duty on local authorities to facilitate and support post-18 living arrangements with foster carers for all fostered young people, where this is what they and their foster carers want.

“The Government amendment is a positive start, but we do not believe that in its current form it will achieve this. It places a power, not a duty, on local authorities to allow young people to stay, and it does not make it clear that they should provide financial support for these arrangements.

“Amendment 331 tabled by Lindsay Whittle AM does place a clear, strong statutory duty on local authorities, backed up by financial support. It also ensures the arrangements are led by the choices of young people and their foster carers.

“The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill should offer clarity for young people and foster carers, and it is important this commitment is on the face of the Bill. We recognise both sets of amendments offer means of achieving this; however Amendment 331 offers greater certainty to young people and foster carers.

“Without these changes, we believe that fostered young people in Wales will not be guaranteed the right to stay with their foster family beyond the age of 17, as new laws are ensuring for their peers in England and Scotland.

“It is not yet too late for the Government to act. To ensure that all fostered young people who want to are enabled to stay with their foster carers beyond 17, the Government must both make it a statutory duty, and must also pledge extra investment so that local authorities are able to deliver this obligation and young people and foster carers receive the financial support they need.”

Currently most young people are forced to leave their foster homes at the age of 17. In contrast, the average age for leaving home across Wales is 24. Yet care leavers are among the most vulnerable young people in our society. They are less likely to do well educationally, and are more likely to have a mental illness, be homeless, misuse substances, be unemployed or spend time in prison than those who haven’t been in care.

The Chance to Stay report shows that young people who stay in foster care achieve more qualifications (55 per cent) and are less likely to be involved in alcohol and substance misuse than those who leave by the age of 18.

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For media enquiries contact the Fostering Network media team on 020 7620 6425 or media@fostering.net

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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.