Looked-after children placed with independent providers are leaving care at a far younger age than those cared for directly by local authorities, new figures suggest.
Almost half of the young people in placements with Foster Care Associates left care aged 16 in the year ending March 2006.
This compares with Department for Education and Skills figures that show 28 per cent of all looked-after children left care aged 16 in 2005 – a fall from 35 per cent since 2001.
The FCA figures cover the whole of the UK, while the DfES data applies only to England, but Luke Chapman, FCA’s co-ordinator of care leavers services, said that other independent providers had noticed similar trends.
He said finance was likely to be an issue; independent providers charge up to £800 a week for a foster placement, because they often take the most vulnerable children, while a local authority foster placement can cost just £180.