Response to findings of the Children's Commissioner survey on leaving care

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In response to the release of the results of the national survey of children in care by the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, in England, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “The Fostering Network has long campaigned for children in foster care to be supported beyond the age of 18 when they legally become an adult and leave the care system.

"In 2013, following The Fostering Network's Don't Move Me campaign, the Government in England implemented Staying Put to allow young people who reach 18 living in foster care the opportunity to continue to live with their foster carer, and other UK governments are following suit. When this is implemented consistently across the board, it will be a huge step towards improving the lives of young people leaving foster care, and we support research into introducing similar change for other care situations.

“Children who leave the care system must be supported until they are at least 25, and for their whole life if needed, and they must not be made to feel like they are a burden on our society. Ultimately we want to see this embedded in legislation. In the long-term the savings which could be accrued by minimising the social problems which may arise from not sufficiently supporting care leavers need to be identified and directed toward local authorities, to enable them to meet the costs of a longer period of leaving care support. We know that taking a holistic view to an individual’s needs can be cost effective and change lives in the long run, and yet we still try and treat each symptom and not the cause of their issues.

“We propose a single, flexible model of leaving care support, to replace the current tiered system based on on-going needs. The underpinning principles of this model are that the obligations that flow from the state’s unique relationship as corporate parent should be based on support according to need rather than age, or education or employment status. Young people should have the right to support at any point up to the age of 25 years, something that has recently been brought into legislation in Scotland.

“We know, from our work leading The Care Inquiry, that relationships are the golden thread that can lead a young person to a positive and sustainable future. The support of foster carers, fostering families, and former foster carers, can give a young person living independently the opportunity of an extended family, and therefore support, that they may previously not have had.”

You can read the initial release of survey results by the Children's Commissioner on their website.