Charity the Fostering Network has urged the government to give more support to the Staying Put programme, which allows children in care to stay with their foster families – or return to them – until the age of 21.
A £4.5 million pilot scheme, which ran from 2008 to 2011, ran in 11 local authorities across the country, including North Tyneside and York, but funding has not been set aside since then.
In February of this year, an evaluation of the pilot scheme said it gave young people greater control over the transition from childhood into independent adulthood.
Currently only 240 young people in care are covered by the programme, an increase of just 10 over the previous year.
Robert Tapsfield is Chief Executive of the Fostering Network. He said: “We are disappointed that no action has yet been taken to implement the findings as set out in the final report of the Staying Put pilot scheme. We would welcome the implementation of Staying Put, or a similar scheme, across the UK to help young people have the futures that they deserve.”
“The scheme showed that letting young people stay in care post-18 gave them a solid grounding towards the independence that they are often not yet ready to take on. Why should a vulnerable 18-year-old be thrust out into the world to stand alone when their peers have the support and stability of a family behind them?”
The Welsh government recently launched a consultation on a similar scheme, called When I Am Ready.