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48% of 18 year old care leavers ‘stay put’ with foster carers

Fostering Network calls for resources to enable more children to benefit from ‘staying put’ duty

Statistics released by the Department for Education show for the first time the number of 18 year old care leavers who were living with former foster carers three months after leaving care at 18 ('Staying Put'). Of the 3,230 children who ceased to be looked after in a foster placement on their 18th birthday during the year ending 31 March 2015, who were eligible for care leaver support, 1,560 (48%) remained with their former foster carers three months after their 18th birthday.

The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced a new duty on local authorities to support young people to continue to live with their former foster carers once they turn 18 (the 'Staying Put' duty). This duty came into force on 13 May 2014. The duty means that local authorities must advise, assist and support both the young person and their former foster carers when they wish to stay living together. This supported arrangement can continue until the young person's 21st birthday. The Government is providing £44million to local authorities over three years to help support these arrangements. A Staying Put arrangement is one where the young person is a former relevant child who was looked after immediately prior to their 18th birthday (as an eligible child) and continues to reside with their former foster carer once they turn 18.

Jackie Sanders, director of public affairs at The Fostering Network, said:

"We are encouraged to see that 48 per cent of young people are staying put with their foster carers three months after their 18th birthday, but the real statistics – how many stay when they're 19, 20, or access further or higher education – will come in time. We campaigned for a change in legislation to allow this to happen and will continue to push the Government to provide adequate resources so that local authorities can provide as many young people as possible with the opportunity to stay with their foster carers if they so wish, while at the same time ensuring that these foster carers aren't being forced to fund this out of their own pockets."

Anne Longfield, Children's Commissioner for England, said:

"The new rules which allow young people to stay with foster carers beyond their 18th birthday appear to be having a positive effect. It is heartening that nearly of half (48%) 'stayed put' after their 18th birthday. I would like similar levels of support to now be extended to all care leavers, including those in care homes."

The figures are included in the statistical release  Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2015.

The release is here.