All young people in care north of the border can now stay in their placements until the age of 21, following new legislation.
Under the Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014, youngsters in foster care, those in living in children’s homes (‘residential care’) and those living with relatives (‘kinship care’) enjoy a new entitlement to remain where they are with full local authority support until their 21st birthdays. Previously they had been required to leave by the age of 18.
Care leavers will be offered the option to remain for an additional five years when they turn 16. They will also be entitled to ‘aftercare support’ until they turn 26.
The provisions were hailed by Fiona McLeord, Acting MSP for Children and Young People. The “corporate parents” of looked after children must listen to what they want and need, she said.
“Extra support and greater rights will ensure that every young person in care knows they are supported in a way that meets their needs while looked after and during their transition towards independent lives.”
Charities who campaigned for a change in Scottish law on the issue welcomed the new rights, Children and Young People Now reports. The Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland said the change was a “momentous” one, which had “changed Scotland’s care system forever.”
Similar legislation introduced in England and Wales last year allows children and care to ‘stay put’ in their placements until the age of 21 but it only applies to foster placements and not residential care.
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 can be read here.