The majority of children living with foster carers now ‘stay put’ past their 18th birthdays, new figures reveal.
The option for ‘looked after’ children to stay on with foster carers up to the age of 21 was introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014, to help such children better prepare for adult life. Local authorities are required to provide financial support for such arrangements if both the young people and their foster families agree.
According to the Ofsted statistics, covering the year to the end of March 2016, 2,190 young people took the opportunity to ‘stay put’ across the 12 months in question, out of a total of 4,025 care leavers: in other words, 54 per cent of the total, a sharp 22 per cent increase on the previous year.
The figure of 4,025 is also represents an increase – of a still distinct but more modest 17 per cent.
Meanwhile, there was a sharp fall in the number of people applying to become foster carers between April 2015 and March 2016: despite government efforts to recruit new carers, only 11,460 applications were made, compared to 16,920 the previous year.
The total number of households providing shelter to foster children also fell, albeit by a very slight percentage of less than one per cent – 44,320 compared to 44,625 12 months earlier.
The full set of statistics is available here.