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Funding to keep children with foster families until 21 welcomed
NEWS that children in foster care can stay with their foster families until they are 21 has been welcomed on behalf of Worcestershire’s 652 looked after children.
The government announced yesterday that teenagers in England will no longer be forced to leave foster families at 18.
Instead, local authorities will receive £40 million over the next three years and there will be a new legal obligation for councils to provide financial support so teens can be supported into early adulthood if they choose.
It means young people in care can leave their foster families when they feel ready, rather than at a pre-determined age limit.
Liz Eyre, the Worcestershire County Councillor with responsibility for children and families, said Worcestershire had been lobbying for the move.
She said: “We have got 652 children and this is giving us the funding to enable them to stay on with foster carers until they are 21 which I think is the right thing to do.
“Children that are in foster care had issues in their lives which has made them more vulnerable.
“Leaving care at 18 can be disruptive to their education, they leave just before they take their A levels.
“It can be harsh.
“There are informal links to their foster carers but there’s nowhere for them to go at Christmas or holidays.
“Some people say, ‘they have to stand on their own two feet.’
“They are standing on their own two feet. But most young people can say ‘now I can go home to mum’ but the foster parent may well have taken on two other children so there’s nowhere for them to go back to.”
Heather Griffin, foster mum to Matt, aged 17, also welcomed the news.
She said: “I’m always very careful not to make the decision for these teenagers.
“They must make their own decisions but after 20 years of fostering I see that a lot of them aren’t ready at 18 to move on, especially if they are in education.
“They need support until they have finished higher education.”
Miss Griffin, from Redditch, said the financial support was “wonderful.”
She said: “I think about the help and support I had from my parents financially as well as emotionally.
“I took it for granted.
"It’s nice that children in care could take it for granted too.”
The measure will be introduced during the third reading of the Children and Families Bill next year.
To find out more about fostering in Worcestershire, contact 0800 028 2158.
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