When I am Ready will give all young people living with foster families in Wales the right to stay with their foster carers once they reach 18 years of age. The change in the law came about following a campaign by The Fostering Network in Wales.
From April 2016, young people in Wales will have a right to stay with their foster families beyond the age of 18, known as the When I am Ready scheme. This change to the law came into force with the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, and is the result of a joint campaign between The Fostering Network and Action for Children.
The Welsh Government published guidance in March 2015 for local authorities to assist them in developing and implementing When I am Ready. It was expected that all local authorities will set up local When I am Ready schemes in line with the guidance during 2015-16, ready for when their new duties came into force in April 2016.
The Fostering Network in Wales has developed some Frequently Asked Questions about When I am Ready aimed at answering questions regarding its implementation. The resource will assist fostering services to fulfil their duties effectively, helping them to support foster carers to take on the role of When I am Ready carers, and helping foster carers and other professionals to understand what is expected of them in relation to When I am Ready.
These questions and answers will be particularly relevant to practitioners and managers in children’s social care services, independent reviewing officers, foster carers and looked after young people. It doesn’t endeavour to provide all the answers to When I am Ready planning and support, as the circumstances and needs of every individual will be different.
Now that the law has been changed, The Fostering Network Wales is at the forefront of assisting its implementation throughout Wales. There are a number of concerns being expressed by young people and foster carers, including finance, training and the status of foster carers, which we are working to address.
At the highest level, we are members of the Welsh Government monitoring group, have led on foster carer focus groups for pilot authorities, and have presented at Welsh Government implementation seminars for fostering services.
We have also produced a When I Am Ready film, on behalf of the Welsh Government, focusing on young people and looking at both carers’ and young people’s concerns.
More locally, we deliver training to fostering services. Our When I am Ready: Preparing for Placements course is designed to help foster carers develop a greater understanding of the new arrangements and review current practice. Contact our training manager for more details.
The Fostering Network Wales is also leading on When I am Ready with higher education institutions in Wales. We ran a popular When I am Ready higher education event with Cardiff University and the Reaching Wider Partnership in 2018. We have developed, in conjunction with Cardiff University, a model for When I am Ready and higher education implementation.
Further, In March 2016, Welsh Government published good practice guidance for the When I am Ready scheme, under which foster carers are supported to keep care leavers living with them after they turn 18. The guidance is to be read in conjunction with the statutory Code of Practice relating to Part 6 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The guide has been written primarily for practitioners involved in making and supporting arrangements for young people leaving care. The guide supplements the statutory Code of Practice relating to Part 6 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 20141. The code sets out a local authority’s legal responsibilities in respect of post-18 living arrangements for young people in foster care.
The guidance contains clear information about how fostering services should support foster carers financially. It is thanks to The Fostering Network’s campaigning that this requirement was written into the law. For more information visit When I am Ready - Good Practice Guide - March 2016.
We are campaigning to make When I am Ready work for more young people with our Don't Move Me campaign.
For more information about When I am Ready in Wales, contact Maria Boffey.