Giving care leavers the chance to stay
For young people leaving care, the future can be uncertain – especially now
Our new report explores how we can make sure all young people leaving foster care can keep living with their carers once they turn 18, if that’s what they want.
The report has been sponsored by our corporate partner CBRE.
The government policy Staying Put was introduced in England back in 2014.
It gives young people in foster care the chance to stay with their former foster carers up to the age of 21 - rather than having to move out at the age of 18.
This is so important. The average age for leaving home in the UK is 23 but young people in care are expected to become independent much earlier.
Many of them have experienced childhood trauma. This can impact their mental health, their education, and their future career opportunities.
'Staying put' makes a difference. It means young people can have more time to prepare for adulthood, with the support of their carers.
But not all young people who want to stay are able to.
Research shows that many young people in foster care still have to move out before they are ready. This is primarily because of a lack of funding.
The government currently funds Staying Put through Department for Education Implementation Grants. But it has been clear for some time that Staying Put has never been properly funded.
Last year, the Education Secretary announced that the government would give a £10 million boost to Staying Put. This meant that local authorities received £33.28 million, up from the £23.77 million granted in 2019/20. The decision was warmly welcomed. But the future of Staying Put funding beyond 2020/21 is still uncertain. Even with the new funding, local authorities will struggle.
Action for Children has outlined many different options that the government could take forward to effectively cover the costs of Staying Put. These measures would mean foster carers could afford to support Staying Put arrangements.
Our projections show that there will be a difference of £15 million – rising to more than £18 million – between what local authorities are likely to be paying their Staying Put carers, and what the government will be providing to local authorities. And that’s if the grant allocations at their current level even continue to be delivered.
We call on the government to:
- Commit to providing adequate funding to local authorities to deliver Staying Put for 2021/22 as soon as possible.
- Carefully consider each of the options Action for Children has set out, and develop a long-term funding model for Staying Put as part of the upcoming Care Review. This should be based on the option that has a high likelihood of affordability for carers, covering both fee payments and allowances.
- Set minimum allowances for Staying Put carers supporting young people aged 18, 19, and 20, as they do for foster carers looking after children aged up to 17.
- Update the guidance around Staying Put.
- Explore the implementation of Staying Put, and the different experiences of young care leavers, as part of its upcoming Care Review.