Extension to foster funding for over 18s is welcome news

Ruth Hawkins

Ruth Hawkins

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Family solicitor and Mediator

I wrote some time ago that the Government was considering allowing fostered children to stay in their foster placements until their 21st birthday, instead of having to fend for themselves at the age of 18.

I am pleased to be able to confirm that recently the Department of Education has allocated a first year of additional funding for ‘Staying Put’ provision to local authorities in England, with further information on the subsequent two years of funding expected to be announced in February 2015.

The total funding being set aside for local authorities amounts to £7.4million, and is being allocated to allow them to incur “expenditure lawfully incurred or to be incurred in respect of a young person aged 18 and their former foster carer to continue to live together in a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement”, as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.

Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “The allocation of this money will give local authorities the opportunity to put into place the plans that they have already developed and to offer the certainty to young people that they need.”

The funding allocated to local authorities is based on local councils reaching the levels of uptake that were achieved when similar arrangements were initially piloted. Our hope though, is that more young people choose to stay on – although that would make this current allocation of funds inadequate”.

Children’s minister in England, Edward Timpson MP, has suggested that, should there be a higher uptake, he is prepared to ask for further funds in the next spending review. He states however, that “it is the responsibility of local authorities to show that the money is not enough, and our concern is that if they do not bring in the changes that are needed, then that case will not be made.”

This fund will be well received for vulnerable young adults in Oxfordshire.

While foster carers are doing a fantastic job, this fund should allow them to continue their valued work to helping young people become young adults in our community.

It is also important for those needing help that they do approach the local authority.

More often than not they can provide vital support to a family with children struggling in the current economic climate.

rhawkins@turpinmiller.co.uk

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