Responding to the publication of the new looked after children figures released by Welsh Government for 2017-18, Colin Turner, director of The Fostering Network in Wales, said: 'These figures show a significant rise in the number of children coming into care and a commensurate rise in the number of children living with foster families. It reinforces the urgent requirement for investment in foster care from the Welsh Government as well as the need for the 550 more foster families The Fostering Network estimates are needed in Wales over the coming year.
'We are concerned that 647 children (10 per cent of looked after children) had three or more placements during 2017-18. Given that all the evidence shows that the outcomes of looked after children are directly related to the stability they experience while in care, the fact that this many children lack stability is concerning . Welsh Government, local authorities and fostering services, together, must get to grips with the causes of this instability and put actions in place to combat them. We are encouraged that through the Ministerial Advisory Group, and the work of the National Fostering Framework, attempts are being made to address this problem and progress is being made.
'We are also concerned that only 25 per cent of young people who turn 18 stay living with their former foster carers as part of When I Am Ready. Given that this is a vital age for all young people as they enter into adulthood, we would expect significantly more young people benefiting from When I Am Ready. When I Am Ready has the potential to change the lives of generations of young people leaving care for the better. It is good news that some young people have benefited from the new law, but too many of young people are continuing to miss out on the stability and support they need after they turn 18. This is simply not good enough and is not what we campaigned for.
‘We are calling on the Welsh Government to promote the importance of When I Am Ready to all fostering service and local authorities, as well as to introduce a minimum When I Am Ready allowance. There is also an onus on the entire fostering community to ensure When I Am Ready is the norm. We need to embed When I Am Ready into every aspect of care planning from the earliest possible stage so that every young person has the opportunity to remain living with their former foster carer past 18.‘
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