The forthcoming Children and Families Bill has been amended to allow foster children in England to stay with their families beyond the age of 18.
The so-called ‘Staying Put’ amendment was made during the bill’s third reading in the House of Lords earlier this month.
The government announced plans to introduce the measure in December. Most children living with foster families receive no funding from their local authorities beyond the age of 18, so those who do stay on must be funded entirely by their carers. But under the new bill all such children in England will have the right to a fully funded additional three years to better prepare themselves for an independent life – provided their carers agree. Local councils across the country will be obliged to fund the additional time, with £40 million in new funding to be provided by the government.
The new amendment was championed in the House of Lords by Lord Listowel, who praised the efforts of a coalition of charities to promote the issue.
“I am grateful to the coalition of charities which made this possible, including Barnardo’s, the NSPCC and the Who Cares? Trust, and most especially to Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, who led the charge.”
The Staying Put amendment was tabled on behalf the government by Lord Nash, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools. He said:
“We are committed to doing more to support care leavers, and I believe that the proposed new clause is a crucial step forward.”
The Children and Families Bill is expected complete its passage through parliament and receive royal assent in the spring.
Photo by Cristiano Betta via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence