Care Bill: Lords call to extend foster care until 21

Lords are seeking to amend The Children and Young People’s Bill to ensure looked-after children can stay with their foster carers until the age of 21.

The Children in Care Bill, which received its second reading in the House of Lords this week, contains a provision preventing 16-18-year-olds from being pushed into independent living without their consent.

Baroness Walmsley told the House that 18-year-olds should be able to stay with their foster carers until they were 21. “That should happen whether or not they are in full-time education,” she said.

The government is set to pilot a scheme allowing care leavers to stay with foster families up to the age of 21 from April next year, but Walmsley pointed out that the average age of young people leaving home was 24. “The people we are talking about need more support, not less, than those who live with their families,” she said.

Walmsley called for every local authority to provide supported transitional living arrangements for young people leaving care and moving into independent living, and said the government should regulate for these arrangements.

Lord Listowel raised concerns that the impact assessment published alongside the bill and the bill itself did not account for the cost of local authorities securing a range of suitable placements for children in public care.

“Only if the government places such an obligation on local authorities will there be the funding and only then can we be sure that children will not be edged out before they are 18 or 21,” he said.

Baroness Thornton said many young people were leaving care “too young an age with insufficient preparation” citing 2006 figures that showed nearly a quarter left by the age of 17 and just 1% stayed in care beyond their 18th birthday.

More information

House of Lords full debate

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