Children in care to be given option of staying with foster parents until age of 21

Children and Families Minister will also pledge £40m extra funding for councils over next three years

All children in care in England will be given the opportunity to stay with foster parents until the age of 21, the government will announce today.

Foster parents are currently only given financial support to look after children until they are 18. Under a new law, local authorities will have a legal duty to give families financial help for every young person who wants to stay with their foster parents until their 21st birthday.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson will make the announcement today, along with a pledge of £40 million extra funding for councils over the next three years. The measure will be added onto the Children and Families Bill during its third reading.

Mr Timpson, whose own family fostered nearly 90 children, said: “I know from the many foster children I grew up with how crucial it is for them to be given sufficient time to prepare for life after care.

“A growing number of local authorities already offer young people the choice to stay but with little financial support it can be challenging for their foster families. Now all councils will have to follow their example.”

Mr Timpson said the measure was part of a “wider package of support for care leavers,” including greater financial support for young people leaving care at 18. He added: “This will allow the 10,000 young people leaving stable and secure homes to make the transition from care to independence when they are ready, rather than when their council tells them to.”

Children’s rights campaigners welcomed the change, which reflects growing evidence that removing support at 18 can impact on vulnerable young adults’ likelihood of staying in education and finding work.

Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with this change in legal duty for local authorities, backed up with appropriate financial support, that will ensure that young people in England have the opportunity to enter adulthood supported by the foster families that have devoted their lives to caring for them.”

Matt Downie, head of campaigns at Action for Children said: “We have been asking for the care leaving age to be increased for decades – this is a long time coming but a vital change for vulnerable children and young people.

“The trauma that many experience before being taken into care can mean that they are not ready to leave care. Many are forced to live independently as young as 16 and we know that this can be a dangerous and lonely experience.”

Care leavers are over-represented in prisons and experts believe a longer time supported in the family home could give more of them the stability to stay out of trouble. A quarter of adult prisoners spent time in care in their childhood - and more than half of all juvenile offenders have been looked after. 

Those who leave care at 18 could cost the state an estimated £131,000 more per person in benefits and public service support than those who leave later, according to analysis published by Action for Children published today. Young people who stay on in foster care achieve more qualifications and are less likely to be involved in alcohol and substance misuse than those who leave when they reach legal adulthood.

Last year only 330 young people (5 per cent of care leavers) in England were still with their foster carers by the age of 19. Government projections in early 2012 suggested this new measure would initially lead to about 530 extra young people a year staying on in care annually. But the funding announced has allowed for more than ten times that number after local authorities and campaigners expressed concerns that the Department for Education had under-estimated interest. 

The announcement only applies to children in England, as the issue is devolved in Scotland and Wales and they have yet to raise the age of support.

Mr Tapsfield said: “This issue has not been resolved for young people in Wales and Scotland. We will continue to campaign for this change in the law to be replicated. The next stage of this work begins today with the launch of the Chance to Stay campaign in the Senedd, where we hope that the Welsh Government will also be persuaded of the benefits of allowing young people to stay until 21.”

Recent statistics on looked after children showed a 3.1 per cent increase in the number of local authorities choosing to offer arrangements for children to stay on beyond legal adulthood. This has coincided with a 2 per cent reduction in the number of care leavers not in education, employment or training.

Enver Solomon of the National Children’s Bureau said: “These reforms will provide much-needed stability to vulnerable young people, many of whom have had the hardest starts in life. Most importantly it will help put support for foster children on a par with other young adults and allow them to enjoy the emotional support of family relationships as they make the transition to adult independence. It is a real step forward towards a fairer deal for foster children and a considerable contribution to improving their life chances.”

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

    Clinical Negligence Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

    Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

    Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

    Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone