Peers are being urged to support a change in the law that would allow young people to remain in foster care until they are 21.
Most looked-after young people are forced to leave their foster homes when they turn 18, while the national leaving home age is 24.
Campaigners and academics, representing more than 40 organisations including the NSPCC and Fostering Network, want the House of Lords to support a ‘once-in-a-generation’ chance to change the law, through an amendment in the children and families bill.
If accepted by government, future generations of young people would be able to live with their foster carers until 21, if both parties agree. But the amendment needs widespread support in the House of Lords in order to be successful.
In a letter to peers, the organisations said: “Research shows that the longer a young person can stay with a foster family, the more successful they are in later life. It is an own goal to force them out at 17 – savings now are outweighed by state spending on these young adults in the future.
“But there is a chance for change. An amendment to the Children and Families Bill, currently in the House of Lords, would ensure that all young people can stay with their foster carers until the age of 21, if both parties agree. At an estimated national cost of £2.7 million, this makes financial and moral sense.”
The ‘Staying Put’ pilot scheme, which gives young people the option to live with foster carers until 21, ran in 11 councils and found young people who stayed with foster carers were twice as likely to be in full-time education at 19 as those who did not.