Foster care to age 21: charities lobby MPs to extend care rights

Campaigners are pressing the government to allow looked-after children to remain in foster care until the age of 21 and for improved access to care records for adult care leavers.

The calls came today as MPs debate reforms to looked-after children’s services.

In an open letter to children’s secretary Ed Balls, 12 children’s charities including the Fostering Network said all young people should have the option of remaining with their foster carers until the age of 21.

“Failing to enable children to stay with their foster carers beyond the age of 17 will have serious consequences for this government’s stated intention of transforming outcomes for young people in care,” the charities said.

The Children and Young Persons Bill proposes pilots of foster care until children reach the age of 21, but the charities argued that this should be funded and rolled out “as soon as possible”.

Fostering Network is organising a mass lobby of parliament today to coincide with the bill’s second reading in the Commons.

The British Association of Fostering and Adoption made a seperate call to include measures to improve adult care leavers’ access to care records.

Julia Feast, BAAF policy research and development consultant, said: “We should not underestimate the importance of information for post-care adults. It can assist in resolving issues about their past, provide a sense of personal history and identity, and have a huge positive impact on their own children and family life.”

The Bill proposes reforms to looked-after children’s services including the introduction of social work practices.

More information

Children and Young Persons Bill

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